Thursday, September 07, 2006

'Unreasonable and unrealistic'?

These people may look like supermarket workers from south Auckland, employed on less than $12 an hour, seeking a long overdue pay rise, but in the topsy-turvy world of PR suits they're actually rapacious union thugs, holding their poor employers to ransom and threatening us all with a future where cucumbers and onions are more expensive than petrol. Ho hum.

I was wondering, though: is this a form letter? Anyone else received it?

From: Scott Hamilton []
Sent: Saturday, 2 September 2006 4:49 p.m.
Subject: message from an unhappy customer

Dear Progressive Enterprises,

I am disgusted by your treatment of your striking employees and will
not be shopping at Countdown, Foodtown, or Woolworths until you give them the
pay rises and fair contract they deserve. I know many other people who feel
the same way and who will also be avoiding your stores as long as you
refuse to agree to the just demands of the National Distribution Union.

Yours sincerely,
Scott Hamilton

From: "customerinfo" Add to Address Book
To: "'Scott Hamilton'"
Subject: RE: message from an unhappy customer
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2006 07:34:22 +1200

Dear Scott,

Thank you for your feedback regarding the current industrial action we
are experiencing.

We understand that situations such as this create strong feeling and
that opinion can be divided on the issue. I would like to briefly outline
the reasons for our actions to date so that you are aware of these in
considering the matter.

The unions representing our three grocery distribution centres are
demanding what is in effect a 30 percent increase in employment costs. No
business - including ours, can meet such unreasonable and unrealistic demands. To
do so would result in higher food prices in New Zealand supermarkets and
threaten the livelihoods of our 18,000 plus staff, our suppliers and
our very business.

Progressive is committed to delivering the lowest possible grocery
prices for New Zealanders and this means we pay particular attention to costs
within our business. At the same time we ensure fair wage rates are
paid to all of our staff.

The current situation is unfortunate, however we cannot make a decision
based purely on the interests of striking union members, who represent
less than three per cent of our workforce. Despite this action our
supermarkets remain open and we are endeavouring to provide the very best service we

I hope you understand that our position is based on needing to consider
what is in the best interests of our customers, staff and the business.

Yours sincerely,

Marty Hamnett
Managing Director
Progressive Enterprises Ltd

Update: a new and rather arrogant blogger calling him/herself Connectivity Bridges (damn hippies!) has a post up about Steve 'Third Way' Maharey's princely donation to the strikers.


Blogger Mark K said...

It's not so much hisview of the workers I find disingenuous, so much as his claim to represent the interests of customers or staff, either of which he is only interested in insofar as their welfare affects the company's bottom line. Don't ask capital to have a heart; force it to, and then kick its teeth in.

12:23 pm  
Blogger Mike B said...

Amazing how "less than three percent" of their workforce could have such a dramatic impact on food costs and threaten their "very business"! It must be fierce competing with that single other firm with which Progressive shares the NZ grocery market.

2:26 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

The supermarket business is is very competitive
- in these negotiations the union and management need to look at cost a analysis - remember that the biggest cost of business - or a major cost - is labour.

I we don't know the accounts - we cant say if 30% is too much -

12:14 am  
Blogger kevistruth said...

Richard man, why don't you make like a breeze and blow away?

Ha...catch me if you can...

11:55 am  
Blogger Mike B said...

You're right that even with only two competitors competition can be tought... But the fat in the system won't appear only on the balance sheets of the supermarkets themselves because the chains have a great deal of power over all the firms in the supply chain. They tend to have narrow margins on everything they sell, but are pretty profitable overall. And an industry with only two serious competitors is ideal for unions as they can strike both at once so they can't cry tough competition.

I haven't been following the details of this case - is it only Progressive Enterprises involved?

12:28 pm  
Blogger Skyler said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:13 pm  
Blogger Skyler said...

My post was not to point out Maharey's "princely donation" but rather to emphasize my distaste for Wayne Mapp's politics. I also wanted to take the opportunity to highlight and give some links to further information on the Shelf Respect campaign and the progressive workers strike. I am by no means a complete Steve Maharey fan and feel he should do a lot more for workers than his $200 donation (a tiny gesture).
As for you referring to me as a "rather arrogant blogger" - I think that if you compare the arrogance of the two bloggers in question, I think that the blogger calling himself 'maps' adopts a far more arrogant stance on issues on a regular basis!

2:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what I was referring to was the pamphlet you published called (was it?) 'Yes, humanity has a future'. I thought that was pretty over the top, especially considered said publication consisted mainly of autobiographical accounts of the development of The Mockers into 'Kiwiland's one-stop rock entertainment shop'.

But each to their own...


2:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maps, will you be the next SAP?

Watch your back...

4:19 pm  

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