Warehouse career wage welcomed

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 16:25 23/07/2013
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Unions are supporting The Warehouse's staged implementation of a "career retailer wage" leading to increased pay for thousands of experienced employees.

The Warehouse said today that it would implement the first stage of its career retailer wage next month, giving 3800 experienced retail employees between $30 and $65 more in their weekly pay packets.

First Union retail secretary Maxine Gay said it was pleasing that as a result of the pay rises, some Warehouse workers would get similar pay rates to those received by Kmart staff after recent union negotiations.

First Union was bargaining with some supermarket and DIY chains in the hope that they would follow The Warehouse and Kmart in increasing workers' wages, she said.

"It is interesting that it is general merchandise retailers who are taking the plunge towards paying a more liveable wage, whereas those in the highly profitable supermarket and DIY stores are languishing way behind."

Gay said she hoped supermarkets and DIY stores would recognise the benefits to their business and work force from boosting their wage rates.

The Warehouse said in May that it would introduce a new pay scheme for thousands of trained staff with more than three years' experience.

The pay rises will be introduced for staff working in the red sheds, Warehouse Stationery and Noel Leeming, which The Warehouse bought last year, in a bid to encourage them to retain retailing as a career.

The listed retailer said the first round of pay rises, worth $3 million, would come into effect on August 1. The final stage would be implemented in August next year.

The Warehouse Group chief executive Mark Powell said the wage was a key element of its strategy to make retail a more attractive career, alongside comprehensive training and a great workplace environment where a person's full potential could be realised.

"It supports our belief that flourishing societies need flourishing businesses, and in turn flourishing businesses need flourishing societies."

He said The Warehouse felt it had a responsibility to take a lead. "This is tangible evidence of our commitment to do this."

In May, Powell said that contrary to the perception of many, the group traditionally paid above the minimum wage, and in recent years had moved wage rates ahead of inflation.

The introduction of the new wage - partly influenced by the Living Wage campaign, which championed a wage of at least $18.40 an hour - would influence people into choosing a career with The Warehouse Group, he said.

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The company was looking at other initiatives to promote retail as a career and improve training.

To qualify for the career retailer wage, employees must have completed all the required training levels for a role and have about three years' experience, or logged more than 5000 hours.

About 200 staff members would thereafter qualify every quarter to move on to the rate, he said.

By the end of the year, about 60 per cent of all permanent employees across the group would be earning the new wage or more.

The second stage would give further pay increases to the full career retailer wage level, he said.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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