Coronavirus: Foodstuffs agrees to 10pc pay rise, vulnerable staff granted paid leave

Foodstuffs has agreed to give its essential supermarket workers a 10 percent pay rise for the duration of New Zealand's lockdown, with paid leave granted to all staff classed as vulnerable.

Staff members across Foodstuffs' 428 individually-owned businesses will receive an additional 10 percent on top of their usual rate, the gesture granted as "one way of saying thanks", according to Foodstuffs North Island CEO Chris Quin.

In an interview with The AM Show on Monday, Quin said a "universal decision" was made to "recognise the commitment and hard work of people in our business".

He said all staff classed as vulnerable, for example the elderly or immuno-compromised, will be receiving paid leave for the duration of the lockdown.

"That is the right thing to do," Quin said.

"The other thing we're ramping up as fast as we can is their safety and security at work. We're meeting the Ministry of Health guidelines and trying to get above that...  [ensuring] the safety and wellbeing of our team and customers and getting groceries on the shelves are our two goals."

'Price gouging' at supermarkets

Quin says Foodstuffs recognises that their "value promise" across the brands PaknSave, New World, Four Square and Gilmours "is more important than ever" during this period of economic uncertainty. 

"I've been getting a price report everyday since the beginning of this," he told The AM Show.

"So PaknSave, we've always promised New Zealand's lowest food prices - that has been maintained at the same level through the five weeks of this COVID-19 period. 

"In terms of New World... most weeks, we'd run around 5000 specials. We're running 4800 specials this week."

Quin argues that pulling roughly 200 promotions is due to certain stock not being available.

"We also measure a normal basket that people would shop and how much that would cost. That has remained relatively constant through the five weeks, with a little up and down due to fresh produce [availability]."

On Sunday, New Zealand's COVID-19 case total rose to 514, including both confirmed and probable cases. Fifty-six people have recovered from the virus so far.

Monday marks the country's fifth full day in official lockdown since the new Alert Level 4 measures were implemented at 11:59pm on Wednesday. The lockdown, tentatively set for a four-week period, will work to eradicate the virus by ensuring the closures of schools and all non-essential businesses. 

New Zealanders are expected to remain at home unless they need to buy groceries or essential supplies, take exercise in their local area or require medical attention or healthcare. The essential workforce is permitted to travel to and from work, while all other employees are required to work from home.