The Warehouse confirmed to workers in a series of meetings around the country that the organisation has decided to continue with its proposed restructure of 62 further Warehouse stores, despite overwhelming staff feedback that the plan will disadvantage thousands of workers and result in job and hours losses as well as poorer customer service, FIRST Union said today.
"Staff gathered for morning meetings and were told by store managers that reductions in store-wide hours will continue and workers will now begin the process of reapplying for roles, considering voluntary redundancies and implementing the new rosters," said Tali Williams, FIRST Union Secretary for Retail and Finance.
"Despite widespread and consistent feedback that hours reductions and job losses are the last things workers and communities need at such a precarious point in history, The Warehouse are ploughing ahead with their corporate restructure regardless."
"I want to thank the workers and delegates from the Warehouse who have come together from around Aotearoa to make their voices heard during the consultation process - it may be of cold comfort, but this restructure would already be significantly worse without your efforts."
"Unfortunately, the Warehouse have made it clear that it’s profit before people in terms of their future operations, and so the restructure will continue as planned, but the fight is far from over."
"We’ll continue advocating for each of our members as we confront the worst consequences of the restructure - competition between colleagues for reduced hours, potentially unsafe staffing levels and the impact to people's incomes - and we will be here to ensure workers are treated fairly through this process and receive their entitlements."
"Ultimately, we have to remember that this is not about reacting to Covid-19 - The Warehouse have admitted as much - and we must apply the same scrutiny and scepticism to this restructure as we ordinarily would at any other time."
"The pandemic shouldn’t be seen as a backdrop for this restructure, and I urge other companies not to look to The Warehouse’s opportunistic example and instead invest in their workers and their communities when they need it most."
"Good employers are keeping their staff on, paying people more, up-skilling and hiring new people, and they will be the ones who benefit in the longer-term recovery from the pandemic, as will the communities they are part of."
"From what I have heard and seen from our members and the public, forcing this restructure through while Covid-19 is on our doorsteps will unfortunately be a stain on this company’s reputation."
An eleventh-hour petition calling for a halt to the restructure signed by over 5,500 people in less than a week was presented on Wednesday morning by FIRST Union General Secretary Dennis Maga to The Warehouse Group CEO Nick Grayston, who was only able to receive the petition in private from two representatives at 7:30am at the company’s Head Office.
Meetings between the company and workers in the Central region of New Zealand will continue on Friday, and advocacy for affected members will take precedence now for FIRST Union as the restructure is implemented and its implications become clearer, Ms Williams said.