Bunnings Bites Back

The Standard, and some other left blogs, have been critical of Bunnings for only paying workers a starting rate of NZ$12/hr compared to NZ$19/hr in Australia. They talk about the Australian CEO’s salary but that is a red herring.  The questions I would ask is what is the EBITDA for the NZ and Australian operations, and also what are the gross revenue and staff numbers for each side of the Tasman.  And what is the cost of living in each country.
Without that info, I can’t really offer an informed view as to whether Bunnings pay rates are reasonable in NZ compared to Australia or not. Also of course one of the incentives for employers to pay staff more, is the fact they may lose their staff to other employers who need those skills.  In a low unemployment environment, this is a real issue.

Nevermind also blogged on this issue and e-mailed the NZ General Manager of Bunnings, who replied to him.  Well done to Nevermind for publishing the reply, which is:

Thank you for your correspondence, as I am sure you will appreciate there are two sides to every story.

We have been negotiating with the National Distribution Union since May 2007, during this time we have lifted the average wage for all team members by 6.4%.This includes wages for union members despite being unable to reach agreement with the NDU. In addition Bunnings has also provided additional benefits which the NDU chooses to ignore such as 6% contribution to Kiwisaver, an offer to all team members of $1000 worth of shares in the company at the cost of one dollar, bonuses for all team members measured against store targets, dividends on shareholdings, to name a few.(around 80% of Bunnings NZ workers are shareholders)

Although the NDU publicly includes all Bunnings workers by insinuation in its press releases and pamphlets in fact they represent a little over 300 of our 2400 team members of which less tan 200 have joined in the industrial action taken.

We have a strong commitment to employing great people who want to work for us because it is a great place to work and in the main we believe we are achieving that goal despite the activities of the NDU.

I realise it is your choice where you shop but appreciate the opportunity to put the other side of the issue to you.

Now again I still don’t have information on exactly what the NDU is asking for, and what Bunnings have offered, so I’m not going to declare one side good and one side bad. But I will say I absolutely love the idea of a company where 80% of the staff are shareholders and would love to see more companies do this.

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