Thursday, May 09, 2013

Palmerston North supermarkets and youth rates

Youth rates came into force last week, and Foodstuffs, one arm of New Zealand's supermarket duopoly, wants to use them. I support equal work for equal pay regardless of age, so I emailed both the Foodstuffs supermarkets I shop at to tell them I wouldn't be shopping there anymore. The responses are quite different. First, here's Melody's New World:

At this stage we are not changing our rates to youth rates and our pay scheme is not dictated by Foodstuffs... When it comes to our staff we value all 220 of our team here at Melody’s and they are given extra pay rises and incentives when deserving. We believe pay rises are earned by merit and work ethics, there is no relevance to age.

OK, so its not quite New World Thorndon's "never have, never will", "Our owner says he will continue to offer the adult wage rates as he has always done", but its still pretty positive. Pending further information, they're safe to shop at.

Meanwhile, here's Pak n'Save Palmerston North:
Thank you for your email. Foodstuffs is keeping an open mind to all programmes which allow us to employ New Zealanders and develop their careers. We haven't committed to using the new starting out wage,and we are always open to initiatives which might encourage employers to give young people a chance to get their foot in the door.

Translation: they support youth rates - and so they won't be getting any more of my money until they reverse that position.

Foodstuffs has friendly online contact forms, and I encourage everyone to use them to contact their local supermarkets and inquire about their youth rates policy. And if you are boycotting someone, tell them. Your voice makes a difference. And not just in the abstract. In Palmerston North, there are 8 supermarkets, serving 80,000 people, or about 3,850 households per supermarket. Supermarket margins are thin, and you probably need only 1% of that market - fewer than 40 households - to make a noticable difference to their bottom line. That's not a lot. So tell them, just so they know what the problem is and that they can change it by recanting on youth rates.