Costco gifts Aussie employees $750 bonus


Costco employees will be gifted a $750 bonus each as the chain continues to cope with the heightened hysteria of the coronavirus-induced panic buying.

The payment will be given to about 4000 staff members at the supermarket wholesaler, according to the retail union SDA, as well as an extra $3 an hour for those who worked in the five weeks between March 2 and April 5.

"Costco's action sets an example for the others," SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said in a statement provided to

"Other major supermarket chains, which have been very busy, should step up immediately.

"It is an acknowledgment of the service Costco workers are providing - an acknowledgment of the risks they are taking to keep the community fed and healthy."

The union says the unique circumstances presented by the coronavirus pandemic mean a large cohort of retail employees have suddenly become "frontline workers" with the Federal Government limiting trade to essential services and locking the population in their homes.

These include supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations and convenience stores, which the SDA say deserve a pay rise of $5 per hour during the government-imposed shutdown.

"Not only would workers in these essential outlets be working harder, it would be more stressful and riskier to their physical health," Mr Dwyer said.

"Without the efforts of these workers, households would find it increasingly difficult to get the food, fuel and medical supplies they need while keeping the general community as safe as possible."

Queues of people arrive at Costco in Ipswich. Picture: Peter Wallis
Queues of people arrive at Costco in Ipswich. Picture: Peter Wallis


Hundreds of thousands of retail workers stood down in the last two weeks may given a lifeline as the Government rolls out its wage subsidy package.

Broadly speaking, the generous JobKeeper payment will be made available to full-time, part-time and casual workers as well as sole traders - including those working in the gig economy, such as Uber drivers - who have been affected by the downturn sparked by the virus.



But there are important caveats.

Businesses with less than $1 billion in revenue will only be able to claim the subsidy - and pass it on to individual workers - if they experience a 30 per cent drop in sales or a 50 per cent hit for firms with more than $1 billion in revenue.

And while the Government believes around six million eligible Australians will end up receiving the payment, it will be restricted to staff who were working for an eligible business on March 1 and are at least 16 years old.

Casual workers will need to have been working for the company for at least one year to receive the payment.

To qualify, you must also be an Australian citizen - or hold a permanent visa, a protected special category visa or a non-protected special category visa and have been living in Australia continually for a decade or more.

New Zealand citizens on a special category visa will also be eligible.


Under the rules, countless foreign workers will be excluded from the payments, which is a huge problem for the individuals themselves and for certain industries that typically hire foreign workers out of necessity, such as hospitality and retail.
Valerio Domenici, who owns Zucchero Caffe Bar in North Sydney, appeared on Today this morning to explain businesses like his would be affected by the exclusion.

Mr Domenici explained that while he had tried to hire Australian workers first, he had struggled to fill job vacancies and, as a result, relied on foreign workers to fill the gaps.

The majority of his workforce won't qualify for the new subsidy.

"I'm a little bit disappointed … my main concern is my workers," he told hosts Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon.

"I have tried to employ Australians as much as possible, being Australian myself, but I have not been able to."



Originally published as Costco gifts employees $750 bonus

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