Fair Go: Parents cry foul over pay rates for pamphlet delivery

Gill Higgins
Source: Fair Go

Parents are claiming their children are being exploited when they take on paper delivery jobs.

The work, which is paid per item, equates to $2-4 per hour, according to Alan Charman, whose son Quint started doing deliveries at the start of the year.

Quint does two paper rounds and a brochure delivery run to try to make decent money. His dad says it’s only possible because they help him out.

"We do give him a helping hand, otherwise he wouldn't have time to do it, it would be impossible."

Alan says his son is fortunate he can use his money towards a gaming computer, but he knows other young people who are taking the job on to help out at home.

"I know a family in Papatoetoe where the daughter is the same age as Quint and she’s working for $2-3 an hour to help put food on the table," he said.

Waipareira Trust head John Tamihere agrees some families are struggling and will take on any work to make ends meet.

“In [West Auckland], we know 30% of Māori people are earning under $24,000 a year, so if their babies can deliver some pamphlets to add to the pool then that’s better than sitting at home, but that is exploitation," he said.

Alan brought the issue to the attention of Fair Go after realising that his eldest son, who used to do a paper round 20 years ago, was earning roughly the same amount as his youngest son today.

“He was earning $8 to deliver 87 papers. Quint is earning $8.80 to deliver up to 150 papers so roughly the same money for doing two-thirds of the work 20 years ago and there’s been a little bit of inflation since then," he said.

Fair Go has been campaigning on the issue for years and it seems that there may now be some movement in the right direction.

The industry body The Real Media Collective explained it’s planning a review of the entire distribution network in New Zealand with the aim of offering a consistent nationwide standard for rates and delivery lengths. It’s also set up a new Distribution Standards Board that both companies and delivery contractors can contact if they have any complaints.

Further to that, the Government is planning to pass a bill this term that will clarify the difference between contractors and employees.

At present, people who deliver papers and brochures are contractors and don’t have the same rights and conditions as employees. It’s possible that the passing of the new bill will bring about change in this respect.

However, Tamihere believes it’s time to pressure companies which use this service to distribute their flyers.

The companies - including Auckland Council, Briscoes, Chemist Warehouse and Hunting & Fishing - were approached by Fair Go.

Chemist Warehouse and Hunting & Fishing gave no response. However, both Auckland Council and Briscoes agreed to discuss the issue with distribution company Reach.

The council said it used Reach as it offers the only large-volume, unaddressed mail distribution network in Auckland but that it would seek clarification from the company about the pay and conditions as it wanted to act ethically and fairly.

Briscoes CEO Rod Duke explained while they "have not been the decision-maker in this process we can perhaps influence some decisions around the future distribution of our catalogues".

"I will give a commitment to raise the issues highlighted."

Alan is hopeful change is on the way. In his view, the answer is simple: “They need to pay more, even 50% more so it’s $5-6 dollars an hour".

"That’s not unreasonable but $2-3 an hour is."