A ten per cent bonus given out to supermarket workers during the Level 4 lockdown will be stripped away at Level 3, Foodstuffs and Countdown have confirmed.
First Union, which represents workers at New Zealand supermarkets, called it "a backwards step" and said "supermarkets workers are understandably angry and feeling pretty crushed.
"Workers are risking their safety, often for poverty wages, so that the rest of us can stay home and eliminate the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand as we’ve been asked to do," First Union spokesperson Tali Williams said.
"Many supermarket workers are telling us that they’re scared and stressed, overworked and struggling with rent, and the ten per cent bonus from employers was one of the only things keeping them afloat."
"There's no such problem for the supermarkets themselves, who have quite simply been raking it in."
A spokesperson for Countdown confirmed the 10 per cent bonus would not continue under Level 3, and said it is now safer and less busy for their workers.
"We've put in place a range of really strong measures to create a more controlled environment for our team, and thankfully, we've also seen demand from customers calm," they said.
Countdown has committed to paying team members with more than a years' service the Living Wage - $21.15 per hour.
Team members are also entitled to a ten per cent discount on food, the spokesperson said, and staff deemed to be at high risk from Covid-19 are still being paid despite not working.
Foodstuffs, which owns New World, PAKn'SAVE and Four Square, also confirmed the bonus would be removed, but added that they had paid one extra week of bonuses after the Government extended Level 4.
"As the country moves out of Alert Level 4 it makes sense that wages return to normal and owners usual business processes pick up again including undertaking employee pay reviews and rewarding their teams independently for their hard work,"a Foodstuffs' spokesperson said.
"Throughout New Zealand’s battle with Covid-19, Foodstuffs supermarket owners and their teams have done an incredible job ensuring Kiwi households grocery needs have been met.
"The increased demand by shoppers for products has put a strain on the supply chain but suppliers, distribution and transport teams, and everyone on the shop floor has pulled together to meet these needs.
"Thankfully, these measures and the collective pulling together of the country has meant New Zealand is now preparing to move to Alert Level 3, a positive step in the right direction and one which allows many businesses to reopen and more people to return back to work.
"This signals a positive step in the return of New Zealand to a 'more normal' existence, but we recognise the journey is not over and protective measures including physical distancing remain critically important.
"Supporting our people remains utmost in our minds and the need to get the balance right is imperative as we prepare for a journey back to business as usual."
First Union is now calling on New Zealanders to show their support for supermarket workers getting pay increases in store.
"Bring a heart, draw a heart, wear a heart - get creative - involve your kids and your families - and display or wear your support proudly when you’re visiting the supermarket as normal during level 3."