Nikki Harvey has been working at Buckerfield’s in West Kelowna for six years and is happy about the adoption of living wages in stores. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

West Kelowna store adopts living wage

One employee says she’s happy to see a living wage increase

Buckerfield’s commitment to paying a living wage for its employees has spread to the Central Okanagan.

With tears in her eyes, Nikki Harvey said she was grateful towards her employers for paying her a living wage.

“I think that the (owner) has done something that’s a precedent for stores and I hope that other stores will follow suit. It’s very nice to work for a company that puts their employees first and looks after their employees. You could go anywhere else and not have any benefits or medical/dental and do this job… and not get paid what you’re worth.”

She has been working at the home and garden store for six years and plans to continue. Commuting from Kelowna, she attends the cash register, stocks shelves, helps plan events and said she knows “a little bit of everything,” in the store which sells garden, home and pet supplies.

“I’m very happy with it,” she said.

Harvey knew of the plan to increase employee wages to living wages, but she said she wasn’t aware of the living wage concept beforehand. A living wage is a standard of pay based on actual living costs in a given region.

“I think it’s nice that a company looks out for their employees and tries to make stuff fair,” she said.

According to the regional district, the living wage for the Central Okanagan is $18.42 as of 2014.

Other Buckerfield’s employees in B.C. are also getting raises, which includes the store in Kelowna.

The Duncan-based store announced, as of Sept. 2, all its full-time staff at its eight stores on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland, Okanagan and Shuswap will be paid according to a living-wage scale.

The province’s minimum wage is currently set at $10.85 an hour, but will increase to $11.35 an hour on Sept. 15.

Buckerfields’ CEO Kelvin McCulloch said that by comparison, Buckerfield’s lowest regional living wage after one year of full-time employment is now $16.73 per hour, plus an additional $1.69 in living costs paid through the company’s benefits program.

He said part-time employees start at $14.75 per hour and all pay rates are expected to increase annually according to the BC Consumer Price Index.

McCulloch said Buckerfield’s employees also participate in the company’s $1 dollar per hour Sales Bonus program, the Employee Discount program for store purchases and the company supplies various work wear, safety items and pet food to employees free of charge.

He said the company has been working on developing a consistent pay scale across all the stores since 2005.