Many workers struggling with pay, conditions amid pandemic

Source: 1News

A new survey shows a growing number of workers struggling with their pay and conditions during the Covid pandemic.

The Council of Trade Unions survey of 1500 workers has found those who believe they're worse off is significantly higher than the year before.

"I feel like you have to be on guard, 24/7," said Dunedin supermarket worker Pepi Campbell.

Campbell said being confronted and verbally abused by an angry customer over having to wear a mask was one example of the increased stress at work.

"The pay doesn't even cover for what we have to do," she said.

Acting general secretary of the CTU, Tali Williams told 1News: "Workers tend to be saying that life on the job is hard under the covid 19 pandemic, and that their wages don't reflect that."

In its 2021 survey, 54 per cent of workers said their pay wasn't keeping up with the cost of living. In this year's survey, that had risen to 69.5 per cent.

In 2021, 52 per cent said their workload was worse than the year before, and in 2022 that had risen to 58 per cent.

Job satisfaction has also deteriorated.

When asked how they would manage for three months without work, around 64 per cent said either "poorly" or "very poorly".

The CTU acknowledged some employers had struggled but said others could do more.

"Many employers do have the resources to pay their staff more, " said Tali Williams.

"In fact the demand is so high within their industries that they're looking to employ more staff, so that says they have the resource available."

The CTU said the big food retailers are an example of employers who can pay more, but Retail NZ pointed that for many businesses, profits were being squeezed.

"Many businesses have been paying additional allowances, many have paid additional rates through covid and they're doing their very best," said Greg Harford of Retail NZ.

"It's important to remember that those businesses have had significant extra costs coming at them as well through this covid period," he added.

The Government told 1News its support of fair pay agreements, due later this year, should benefit many workers in their pay.