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Proposed EasySteel Restructure An Indictment Of Fletcher Mismanagement

Workers at Fletcher subsidiary, EasySteel, are "stunned" by a restructuring proposal received yesterday that FIRST Union organiser, Justin Wallace, says is the result of years of top-down mismanagement of Fletcher that has seen profit extracted from the business to meet huge executive salaries, which workers are now being made to pay for in the form of job losses.

"Fletcher’s EasySteel are blaming everything from customer markets, inflation and the economic outlook for this cost-cutting restructure, but the truth is that it’s a tragedy entirely of their own making," said Mr Wallace.

"Workers are the ones bearing the cost of decades of utter greed from upper management - the writing has been on the wall for a while now and rumours have been circulating among staff due to EasySteel’s notably austere and threadbare operations in recent times."

Mr Wallace said around fifty workers at EasySteel are members of FIRST Union and E Tū, and while many of the staff who are potentially likely to be made redundant are un-unionised, the risk was that EasySteel was the first of many Fletcher brands to begin cost-cutting measures.

Fletcher CEO Ross Taylor exited the business in March, blaming cost blowouts at SkyCity’s Auckland convention centre for the business’s underperformance. As recently as October last year, Fletcher’s board was seeking a 25% increase to annual directors fees; a proposal that was eventually withdrawn.

The current EasySteel restructuring proposal, which has begun its consultation period from today until Friday 26 April, would mean job losses in both Northern and Southern EasySteel operations as well as reductions in administration and a centralisation of some inventory, production and distribution functions.

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"This is an historic embarrassment and an indictment of Fletcher’s mismanagement of its subsidiaries, and workers should not be paying for executives’ greed," said Mr Wallace.

"With a new far-right Government in power, employers have been given the green light to squeeze their businesses for every last dollar and make hay while the sun shines."

"If this restructure goes ahead as planned, there will be a flow-on effect to the rest of Fletchers’ businesses and to the wider building industry - workers will not be the only ones to pay the price."

Mr Wallace said that FIRST Union and E Tū would be supporting union members through the consultation period and restructuring, and providing feedback to EasySteel about the "disastrous" proposal.

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