Bagel company backs staff move to unionise

The bosses of a popular Kiwi bagel company have welcomed their staff's move to unionise, saying it's "their choice which we support".

Around half of Best Ugly Bagels' staff in Auckland have joined E tū, which represents service and food workers, among others. 

The company employs 90 people across Auckland and Wellington. 

"My friends and I really like working at Best Ugly Bagels - it's a good working environment," said union delegate Thomas Carlyle, who thinks being part of the union will make things even better if they can negotiate a collective agreement.

"A bunch of us were chatting and felt that by getting together in the union, we could work with senior management to make it an even better place to work."

Despite Carlyle's positive words about the "good working environment" at Best Ugly Bagels, E tū organiser Mat Danaher says the hospitality industry is "plagued by low pay, long hours, and exploitation of thousands of workers". 

"Just like any industry, hospitality workers organising collectively in their union will help them to secure their basic rights, and give them a platform to win the things that will really improve their work conditions, such as the Living Wage and Fair Pay Agreements."

While interactions between unions and employers usually only make headlines when they're at odds, Best Ugly Bagels told Newshub they're fine with their staff's move.

"We're committed to working with E tū in good faith," said Jeremy Coombes, general manager at Best Ugly owner Al Brown Group.

"The staff decision to join the union is entirely up to them, it is their choice which we support."

E tū hopes if they can strike a good agreement with Best Ugly, other employers in the food and hospitality industry will be inspired to improve conditions for their employees.