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The Warehouse implements 'worst restructure in decades'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Workers are frustrated with the mixed-messages from The Warehouse (TWL) as it confirms job losses.

FIRST Union has been informed that the one-on-one interviews will begin today, and the timeline workers have to apply for jobs is between today (23rd July) and August 1st. The interview process will be between July 23rd and August 8th with a confirmation decision date to be finalised by August 10th. Two managers will do all interviews.

FIRST Union organiser Kate Davis says the Union has urgently requested a meeting to clear up the mass confusion that is putting workers in a state of turmoil, which The Warehouse has agreed to.

"There was not enough time during the consultation process, and now interviews have apparently begun today when the jobs aren’t even up on their website yet. It’s a mess, and members need answers."

"There is already misinformation out there. Some staff believe they will not receive redundancy if they do not apply for any of the new roles, and these new roles do not suit many workers who need a decent number of secure hours."

Members are worried that if they don’t have a 20-hour contract it will affect their Working for Families benefit.

"They do not have the basic right of job security, they are living in limbo, and all this while underemployment figures remain very high, people want more hours and women are hugely overrepresented in these figures yet companies like The Warehouse are making these moves."

Mr Davis says it’s a move to casualize the workforce that goes against what workers need and want to live healthy lives.

"TWL is using the worse possible form of restructuring by throwing everything up in the air and making far more people apply for jobs than they need to, creating far more stress and concern amongst workers and members than they need to. How many more million dollar executives are they going to hire while workers sit desperate for more hours."

She says the type of restructure is one that utilises the law against workers, making them partially redundant but without a redundancy package.

"Our rule of thumb is that if a permanent worker’s hours are cut then that is a partial redundancy. The problem is the company is forcing workers to apply for a job with a cut in hours and will then say there is no partial redundancy because the worker applied for the new job."

She says the company hasn’t been completely transparent during the whole process.

"Workers thought redeployment was the favoured option at the last meeting, now they are being told redundancy is a key option with one manager stating that, ‘considerable redundancies will be inevitable’."

The Warehouse CEO, Pejman Okhovat says the company needs to evolve with customer demands but a survey undertaken by the Union that received 1,500 responses in just four days from both members and the wider general public showed it’s not what New Zealanders want. The survey shows 95% of respondents value seeing familiar faces from their local communities at The Warehouse, it also shows 90% of people prefer to pay for their items with a real live checkout person!

"It’s a massive undermining of the market by removing loyal, hardworking workers, and against Kiwis’ wishes for the brand."

Ms Davis adds the fact the company’s just taken on The Appliance Shed has added insult to injury.

"Firstly it shows TWL recognises the retail boom but it also shows a blatant disregard for its workers to be taking on a company that has one of New Zealand’s best mental health campaigners at its forefront (Mike King working with The Appliance Shed)."

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