By Dan Nichols
At the end of November, New Zealand saw the world's first ever strike at a branch of Starbucks. What started as a small protest outside the Karangahape Road in Auckland snowballed after Starbucks workers heard that managers would be bought in to cover for striking workers.
“What began as an event to highlight the poor conditions of low pay and minimum wage workers turned into a show of solidarity and strength between Auckland’s Starbucks workers,” said Simon Oosterman, SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign coordinator.
“More than 30 workers spontaneously walked out from 10 different Auckland Starbucks stores to join KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonalds employees, and around 150 other supporters outside the K’Rd store,” he said.
“Starbucks workers continued their solidarity despite being threatened with being sacked for abandonment of shift if they did not return after one hour.”
The "Super Size My Pay" campaign has been run by New Zealand's UNITE union in order to put pressure on the government and employers to increase the minimum wage and end the "youth" rate that we also see in Britain. The campaign also wants workers to have more secure hours, they say that:
"The New Zealand government has said it wants to raise the minimum wage to $12.00 per hour by the end of 2008 if ‘economic conditions permit.’ But 2008 is too late for low paid and minimum wage workers - we are already in the midst of a low wage crisis despite recent growth in the economy and record corporate profits."
Since the action at Starbucks, there has been a strike at a KFC restaurant, with a symbolic strike at a Pizza Hut to follow later this week. UNITE's approach is worthy of emulation by British unions, as we are faced with a similarly inadequate minimum wage, as well as insulting "youth" rates
• For further information visit www.supersizemypay.com.