Checkout workers – discarded heroes

by Don Franks
 
It must often feel like thankless work as we ravage supermarket shelves, while you police our empty streets, bring us our news or staff our pharmacies and hospitals. But this pandemic has helped show the true backbone of this country, the real-life superheroes – and it’s you.

Hugo Grrr George Fowler

Just days ago, checkout staff were national heroes. Mainstream media, government and celebrities praised them to the skies. We were encouraged to stand outside at 7pm and clap for them.

That was then. Today, there’s some sense the worst being over and moves back to normal.

So the ten percent bonus paid to Foodstuffs and Countdown supermarket workers during Level 4’s will be removed at Level 3.

“Many supermarket workers are telling us that they’re scared and stressed, overworked and struggling with rent, and the ten percent bonus from employers was one of the only things keeping them afloat,” First Union spokesperson Tali Williams has said. “There’s no such problem for the supermarkets themselves, who have quite simply been raking it in”.

Next in the Level 3 firing line are fast food staff.

KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl’s Jr and Taco Bell owners, Restaurant Brands ,are forcing their workers to reduce their hours indefinitely or be sacked.

Restaurant Brands said it would choose who would work, and how many hours, depending on each store’s needs each day.

Staff would be given two hours notice telling them whether they would be needed for a shift. However, even if staff were not needed they were required to be on call.

They could also be requested to work all, or part, of their shift at a nearby store that was short-staffed, the company said.

If New Zealand returned to Level 4 then all these changes would be voided, and new arrangements would be introduced. Staff had until 12pm on April 24 to accept the terms or face redundancy.

Restaurant Brands are also hiring delivery drivers for Pizza Hut and KFC as independent contractors, rather than employees, which means it wouldn’t have to pay drivers the minimum wage, sick pay or offer other employee protections. Restaurant Brands received $21.8m for 3651 staff from the Government wage subsidy scheme. You have to wonder what on earth they spent it on.

We’re told “Kindness is an incredibly powerful way to show we are united against COVID-1”.  Someone forgot to tell capitalism.

4 comments

  1. Thank you, Don, for remembering workers. I have been shocked by Redline’s seeming disregard for those who work in care homes and hospitals, those whose jobs bring them face-to-face with people (who may be carrying the virus with no symptoms), those working in abbatoirs.

    • Susan your comment is a useful example of how distorted the outlook you are pushing is. *You* have sided with the Trump administration and most of the other imperialist countries that have imposed draconian lockdowns. You are siding with the brutal lockdowns in India, the Philippines, countries in Africa that are already causing immense harm.

      You haven’t been able to sanely assess the risk with this virus either. The virus is deadly for the elderly and they need to be protected. I’ve made that a key point in everything I’ve written. I don’t agree with healthy people being quarantined and prevented from working. The virus is harmless for most young healthy people.

      Your position is to support people missing out on health care as well. *You* support the shutting down of health services, the suspension of immunisation programmes that will lead to many children dying. I am shocked at your disregard for population health and a completely callous disregard for the health of the young.

      You are purposely distorting when you accuse Redline of disregarding workers in care homes and hospitals. We have been critical of the lack of PPE, and also we have supported distancing measures and quarantining of the sick, which includes proper infection control in hospitals.

    • Susan your comment is a useful example of how distorted the outlook you are pushing is. *You* have sided with the Trump administration and most of the other imperialist countries that have imposed draconian lockdowns. You are siding with the brutal lockdowns in India, the Philippines, countries in Africa that are already causing immense harm.

      You haven’t been able to sanely assess the risk with this virus either. The virus is deadly for the elderly and they need to be protected. I’ve made that a key point in everything I’ve written. I don’t agree with healthy people being quarantined and prevented from working. The virus is harmless for most young healthy people.

      Your position is to support people missing out on health care as well. *You* support the shutting down of health services, the suspension of immunisation programmes that will lead to many children dying. I am shocked at your disregard for population health and a completely callous disregard for the health of the young.

      You are purposely distorting when you accuse Redline of disregarding workers in care homes and hospitals. We have been critical of the lack of PPE, and also we have supported distancing measures and quarantining of the sick, which includes proper infection control in hospitals.

      • I sent you an essay by an Australian writer about the essential selfishness and greediness of us Westerners, and what you took away from it is that it is unreasonable to expect retired health care workers to come out of retirement.

        I live in a state with one-eighth the population of Sweden. If we had Sweden’s death rate — from the last figures I heard — we would have at least 250 dead people; we have 50-odd dead people. This virus does not just kill the elderly, and if you think so you are living in a fantasy world. And not just because I am 66 years old, I don’t find the elderly to be disposable; I particularly appreciate the comments from indigenous people and African-Americans about their fears of losing their elders who hold their histories and cultures in their bodies and souls.

        You are not even correct about the Trump administration. It is encouraging people to protest — and these are the worst sort of blue-collar fascists — stay-at-home orders. There is NO national stay-at-home order in the U.S., it is up to the states to do so. The Trumpiest states never issued stay-at-home orders and are watching their virus/death numbers go way up. So I would suggest you get your facts right and quit talking down to me, and I’m getting a good idea of what sort of “Marxists” Redline actually are. The kind I have been familiar with in the United States, middle-class, entitled people.

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