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Union Fears for Warehouse Workers' Future

Union Fears for Warehouse Workers' Future

Media Release from the National Distribution Union

October 9, 2008

The National Distribution Union says the Warehouse decision to discontinue its supermarket operation in its three Extra stores from November holds risks for the company's employees.

National Secretary Laila Harré says it is a blow for staff at the three Extra stores who are facing possible job losses at a time when the economy is already shaky.

"Those with kids will lose their wages and their working for families top-ups if they lose their jobs. And if the government changes those without kids are generally too low paid to get anything from National's proposed tax cuts because they are working part-time."

She says the company pulled the three stores out of a planned restructuring programme that was already set to reduce full time job numbers a couple of weeks ago.

"At the time they told us they needed to have another Christmas trading period before they could make decisions on staff numbers but we thought there might be a bit more to it,' she says.

Ms Harré says there is a risk the company will now be taken over by one of the predatory supermarket chains.

"Getting rid of its supermarket arm was one obvious response the Warehouse board, which represents shareholders, could make when the Commerce Commission ruled it would be anti-competitive for a supermarket to buy them out.

"If the Warehouse does not have a supermarket arm then presumably the objections of the Commission no longer apply.

"It would be a pity to see another Kiwi company fall into the hands of an overseas owner like Woolworths and it would be just as bad if it was taken over by Foodstuffs who pay some of the lowest wages on offer in retail outside a dozen or so unionised Pak n Saves."

ENDS

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