On the Picket Line

New Zealand warehouse strikers win raises to cover inflation

By Janet Roth
and Annalucia Vermunt
December 20, 2021

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — “All we are asking for is enough to pay our bills and feed our kids,” Tetini Rangi told the Militant as he picketed outside Countdown’s distribution center in Mangere Nov. 25. “The prices for rent, food, power, everything has gone up.”

Over 700 First Union members rejected a company offer of a 3% pay raise. They struck for three days, stopping production at two warehouses here, asking for 4.9% in line with the rise in the government’s consumer price index.

Jaskaran Singh explained his rent had gone up 50 New Zealand dollars ($34) per week from last year, but “the company pay offer would only give me another NZ$14 a week in take home pay. It’s not enough.”

The company increased its pay offer Nov. 26. The union agreed to the new contract, including a 5% wage raise for the next year and 3.9% for a nine-month term the following year.

“Very happy with the outcome!” wrote Steve Phillips to the Militant. “It was a three-day journey, fight and struggle to get what we all work so very hard for day in and day out.”

“We’re doing this for the younger generations,” Rangi said.