National | Food

Big Ben, small wages? Iconic pie makers on strike

The workers who make New Zealand’s iconic Big Ben Pies are going on strike again.

It comes following their strike last month over a pay offer “that just doesn’t cut it” says FIRST Union.

The union says that workers are currently paid between the minimum wage of $17.70 and just over $21 an hour.  Most are on $18 to $19 an hour and some have 20 or more years of service.

The company has not increased their pay offer since the strike action started, despite the fact that the minimum wage would overtake the two bottom rates in the collective agreement by the end of the term.

Union spokesperson Anita Rosentreter says, “George Weston’s offer is insulting and does not recognise the hard work their employees do.  This company is in la-la land if they truly think two percent on already-low wages is acceptable.”

Rosentreter says a fair wage increase is needed to lift the financial pressure off families.

“Workers who’re paid less than the Living Wage struggle to support families, particularly in our main centres.  A decent wage increase would drastically improve their lives.  George Weston’s owners must do what’s right, they must lift wages.”

George Weston Foods is owned by the Weston family of Canada and the UK, who have a recorded wealth of more than NZ$19bil, says the union.

The company also manufactures Tip Top, Bürgen and Ploughmans bread and Golden crumpets.  It is one of the two main players in New Zealand’s bread market.

The workers at George Weston Foods will leave the job from tonight until Monday May 6.

FIRST Union represents approximately 30 staff at George Weston Foods in Wiri and has been in bargaining with the company since September 2018.

Te Ao Māori has reached out to George Weston Foods for comment and are awaiting a reply.