UTU JUSTICE FOR WORKERS REPORT: Takes $500,000 COVID Subsidy to Save Jobs Sacks Workers – Pockets the Money


DOLLAR DEALERS, an Auckland pawn shop chain, sacked several workers after taking nearly $500,000 from the COVID fund set up to protect these workers’ jobs. 

Dollar Dealers sacked these workers on the spot, with no redundancy pay in the middle of the COVID lockdown. Dollar Dealers then pocketed the COVID subsidy for themselves. The workers got nothing. The boss made money. Shortly afterwards Dollar Dealers advertised vacancies. None of the ‘redundant’ workers were offered their jobs back. 


This was a clear case of an unscrupulous company targeting certain workers for sackings using the coronavirus crisis as cover. Taking taxpayers money meant for these workers reveals the ethics of the owners, Peter Delmont and his son James Delmont. Ironically it reinforces the stereotypes portrayed in film and media of the shady characters who run pawn shops.  

OneUnion has filed a case against the employer on behalf of two workers. We don’t believe for a minute there were any genuine redundancies. The employer went through an insultingly fake consultation requiring employers to give feedback within 48 hours. Within days several employees were called in, terminated on the spot and ordered to immediately leave the premises. 

Initially employees were told the company would pay any redundant workers the outstanding COVID subsidy. However it seems once the employer realised there was a loophole in the subsidy scheme that didn’t require them to pay out the money to specific workers, they reneged. The redundant workers got nothing.  Next time you hear about employers telling the government that they can be trusted to do the right thing when the taxpayer give them dosh, don’t believe them – ever!

Dollar Dealers has over 66 employees. Given the annual staff turnover in the national retail sector is 50% , that would mean through natural attrition they lose an average three employees a month. The employer tell me they only made three workers redundant. Duh!

So they would have us believe, that despite having a government subsidy for their employees, they went through an elaborate consultation process with their entire workforce, just to reduce their workforce by three? Really? Dollar Dealer advertised for staff within a month. 

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We have a mediation meeting this Friday. If I wasn’t so outraged, I’d look forward watching them trying to explain themselves with a straight face. The truth is they deliberately sacked these workers for dubious reasons that we are not aware of.  Eventually we will find the real reason. 

Sadly, many employers have taking advantage of the COVID crisis to sack workers they don’t like and pretend it’s a genuine redundancy. That’s outrageous enough, but pocketing the taxpayers gift that was meant to help save a workers’ jobs, is sickening. We as a community must stop this abuse and hold these people accountable for their behaviour.

If we don’t get a fair outcome at mediation with Dollar Dealers, we will launch a campaign for justice against the owners.

You can help in two ways. 

  1. We have our campaign bus ready for action. I’d really appreciate Daily Blog supporters offering a small koha to get us on the road. With your support we can start visiting Dollar Dealer stores and mobilising locals against their corporate abuse. Please go here. 
  2. If you can offer practical support either through social media, or being part of our UTU squad email justice@oneunion.org.nz Julia will contact you back.


Matt McCarten is the National Director of One Union


  1. F**king well done Matt.

    There are examples of “Covid Capitalism” all around the country, and, many of them are there for all to see on MSD site. Carter Holt Harvey, LVL plant, Ruakaka got $2.2 mill in wage subsidy, gave none to the workers, harvested their leave entitlements, and is currently sacking 70% of the workers, in a plan hatched before the lockdown was announced! Unions have multiple cases and PGs in train over this.

    The Govt. probably did the right thing with its quick implementation of a hight trust model of subsidy–because the usual suspects would likely not have cooperated with lockdowns if they had not. But, now the Govt. needs to get back as many of these fraudulently doled out taxpayer dollars as they can.


  3. …’ Dollar Dealers sacked these workers on the spot, with no redundancy pay in the middle of the COVID lockdown. Dollar Dealers then pocketed the COVID subsidy for themselves. The workers got nothing. The boss made money. Shortly afterwards Dollar Dealers advertised vacancies. None of the ‘redundant’ workers were offered their jobs back’…


    Here we go then, – The end of result of 36 years of neo liberal viciousness and corporate welfare , deregulation and privatization at work for all to see.

    Well done Matt.

    I love hearing all about these pricks.

    Keep it coming.

  4. Off course greed capitalism is going to exploit monies given by government largess, caring in social crises. Most capitalist exploit, pays more in tax to their accountants than a years wage and in larger corporations more than a full forty exploited workers wage, to avoid taxation of their profits, yet tax laws say, the Law, has differing value question Evasions or Avoidance. Money lender to the need and exploit profit extortion rate are in both not money USURY and PROBABLE TAX EVADERS.

  5. Just shows how far down the gurgler NZ has gone since the Great Leap Backwards of 84 by the Neoliberal Nutters Club. I.E. A society at pawn shop level fighting over Government crumbs!

  6. Is there a way someone can anonymously report these crimes?Because they are rampant-and I would have thought they would be uncovered by the IRD-but I won’t hold my breath-

  7. Kia Ora All,
    A quick update. Thanks for your supportive comments. We have confirmed mediation on Friday with Dollar Dealers. If we don’t settle this case, then we will escalate this problem into a broader community campaign. They have several stores in Auckland. Our UTU truck will be ready at the end of next week. We have 12 volunteers for the campaign so far. We have great UTU jackets and masks that we sent to production today. Everyone is going to want one. UTU justice is looking sharp! So many crimes, so many exploiters, so little time…
    In solidarity / Nga Mihi

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