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‘Phenomenal job’: Kmart, Bunnings’ admirable Covid-19 move

It's one less thing for some workers to worry about. Images: Getty
It's one less thing for some workers to worry about. Images: Getty

Kmart, Bunnings and Ikea are among the high-profile businesses pledging to cover staff’s wages during Melbourne’s stage four lockdown.

Wesfarmers, which owns Kmart, Bunnings Target and Officeworks, will cover Melbourne employees’ wages for the six week lockdown, regardless of whether there is work available for them.

Casual workers who regularly work at least 12 hours a week will be paid the equivalent of their regular hours, while those who work less will be paid for two weeks of normal rostered hours.

Wesfarmers employs 30,000 people in Victoria.

“Notwithstanding the Federal Government’s significant stimulus and income support to employees through JobKeeper, many businesses and employees, including Wesfarmers’ team members, will not be eligible,” managing director Rob Scott said.

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“We can’t eliminate the uncertainty for our team members, but we can reduce concerns about a sudden and unexpected loss of regular household income that may otherwise occur because of store closures during the restrictions. It would not have been possible to provide this support without the strong performance our teams and businesses have delivered through the early months of Covid-19.”

Bunnings managing director Mike Schneider said Bunnings staff have been doing a “phenomenal job”, and that it was now Bunnings’ turn to look after them.

The retail union described Wesfarmers’ decision as “admirable” and called on other major employers to extend the same support to employees.

“These are essential workers on the frontline who have been risking their health and safety to ensure the community have food on the table and other essentials throughout the Covid crisis,” Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association secretary Gerard Dwyer said.

Ikea will also pay staff affected by the Stage Four lockdown full replacement wages for the coming six weeks.

“It is now time for other major retailers to follow IKEA and Wesfarmers’ lead,” Dwyer said.

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