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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: First Union

Warehouse workers have presented their final feedback on corporate management’s restructure and redundancy process in a last-ditch attempt to save jobs and hours in 62 stores around New Zealand and are seeking public support to stop the restructure, FIRST Union said today.
Workers have been told to expect a response from the company on Thursday 17th September regarding ‘Phase 2’ of the company’s restructuring proposal, which would result in job losses and widespread reductions in hours and incomes at a further 62 Warehouse stores around the country. While workers are unable to take industrial action outside the period of negotiating a new Collective Agreement, FIRST Union members and supporters are taking a variety of actions on their behalf over the coming week.
“The Warehouse have told us pretty bluntly that this will go one of two ways – either the company will take on board workers’ feedback and immediately halt the rest of the restructure, or they will go ahead – we will find out in 6 days,” said Tali Williams, FIRST Union Secretary for Retail and Finance.
“Workers have consistently raised the same issues with the reductions in instore hours and customer-facing roles, and are frustrated that none of their feedback has been taken on board.”
Feedback collected by FIRST Union from Warehouse workers as a written submission on the restructure proposal was presented to senior management yesterday by twenty “super-delegates” from around Aotearoa. Consistent themes include:
– Concerns that reductions in hours will mean significant losses in income in addition to outright job losses. While some will opt for voluntary redundancy, some say that they will need to take on second jobs or seek additional financial support to stay afloat, and many report concerns about meeting living costs and supporting their families on fewer hours. 
– Concerns that reductions in shop-floor hours will lead to poorer public service, increased incidents of customer dissatisfaction and abuse in stores that many say are already short-staffed, and subsequent concerns regarding personal safety on the shop floor. 
– Concerns that the move to online shopping has been over-stated as a motivating factor for the company’s restructure and under-realised in reality, with some arguing it has been used along with Covid-19 as a ‘cover story’ for a broader cost-cutting initiative. 
– Concerns that reductions in overall store hours and competitive systems for registering interest in the new roster means long-serving colleagues will have to compete against each other for the few remaining hours, and concerns that this process is unnecessarily cruel.
“This is not the time to pit people against each other,” said Ms Williams. “These are people who’ve spent decades of their lives working together in some places, and they would now be made to compete against each other for the same hours – no one really wins.”
“If a crisis shows who you are, the Warehouse are showing us that they think their workers are expendable and the Covid-19 pandemic is a good time to rush through a corporate restructure that they’ve been planning for years.”
“One sad but illuminating example from this process been their response to the idea that some workers would need to take on second jobs if their hours were reduced to this extent – they cautioned that seeking comparable work with competitors like Kmart would come with ‘restrictions’.”
“This really has reached a boiling point due to the shorted timeline for feedback, and while some workers have wanted to go on strike nationally, it’s outside the period of negotiating a new Collective Agreement and it would be unlawful.”
“Instead, we’re focusing on showing the Warehouse that the public supports having more staff in stores and keeping people in work, especially when the employer is hugely profitable and trading during a global pandemic.”
“As a start, workers are asking for everyone to sign a petition calling for a halt to the process, which they want to present to Warehouse CEO Nick Grayston in person before next Thursday’s verdict is made.”
Current Warehouse workers are prohibited by their Agreement from speaking to media on record, but anonymous comments can be sought via FIRST Union.
Over the coming week, Warehouse workers are asking everyone to:
FIRST Union members and other supporters will be gathering signatures outside some Warehouse stores around the country by hosting a QR code for people to scan on their devices (maintaining social distancing and observing all relevant public health requirements). 
– Engage on social media using the hashtag #SaveWarehouseJobs and/or send your feedback directly to the Warehouse 
– Stay tuned for a range of other actions throughout the week ahead

MIL OSI