Farra forced to shed 15 staff in ‘time of crisis’

Gareth Evans
Gareth Evans
Dunedin firm Farra Engineering has had to let 15 staff go as the impact of Covid-19 takes hold.

Chief executive Gareth Evans said staff had all agreed to take a 10% pay cut after the wage subsidy ended as well as agreeing to flexible working hours when times were quiet.

While it was disappointing to have to let 15 staff go, Mr Evans said the company was in a time of crisis and needed to adapt.

‘‘It could have been much more but I’d prefer not to put a number on it,’’ he said.

The company had 149 staff and had received a wage subsidy payment of $1,036,092.

Mr Evans himself and the company’s directors were taking a 25% pay cut for the six months after the wage subsidy.

The chief executive said Farra had contracts deferred and orders cancelled.

Social distancing and continuous cleaning would have a big impact on productivity, as well.

But when staff were told of the position the company was in, their reaction surprised Mr Evans.

‘‘We took a range of options to individuals and the union — what was really inspiring is how many people came back offering more than we were even asking for, as well as some great ideas to help weather the storm ahead.’’

‘‘A crisis is the time that people show their true colours, and I couldn’t be more proud of how our team have responded.’’

He said the pandemic was a ‘‘once-in-a-lifetime event that is beyond anyone’s control’’.

‘‘Our staff feel a real sense of ownership for the business; we knew it was important to be upfront and honest with them about the situation and respect them enough to make their own decisions.’’

Farra Engineering expected the disruptions to business to continue through the rest of the year.

‘‘Farra has made it through 157 years, through depressions and world wars, because of the strength of our people and the current generation of Farra tradespeople are no different,’’ Mr Evans said.

‘‘We will build our team back up as soon as we can.’’

ETu organiser Mike Kirwood said it was not an ‘‘ideal’’ situation for employees but at least the company fully consulted the union and its members had a chance to vote and ratify the 10% variation to their hourly rate to help the company through the crisis.

jacob.mcsweeny@odt.co.nz

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