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The retail giant in July proposed to staff across all of its 92 stores a change of rosters -...
The retail giant in July proposed to staff across all of its 92 stores a change of rosters - asking all workers to indicate when they could work. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Workers at Dunedin’s biggest Warehouse have told the company it has belittled and demoralised them with hours to be slashed by more than half in some cases.

One staff member has even reported feeling "worthless and suicidal" because of the way the retail giant went about a proposal to change the rosters over the past two months.

The Warehouse held meetings with staff at 62 of its 92 stores on Thursday to confirm it would go ahead with a proposal to overhaul rosters, First Union said.

The retail giant in July proposed a change of rosters to staff across all of its 92 stores - asking all workers to indicate what hours they could work.

The Warehouse chief operating officer Pejman Okhovat said at the time the change in working hours could lead to the equivalent of losing 750 jobs across all stores (320 full-time equivalent roles or between 500 and 750 if part-time, fixed-term and casual roles).

At the South Dunedin store most of the respondents to a union survey asking how their hours had changed after staff received The Warehouse’s preliminary decision, said they were in line to lose more than 10 hours’ work a week.

Several reported cuts of 20 hours or more and one person would lose more than 30 hours’ work.

"Some of the offers almost seem to be pushing people into voluntary redundancy because how can anyone [live off that]," First Union organiser Sonja Mitchell said.

A Warehouse spokeswoman said all stores in the South had been given confirmed rosters, except South Dunedin, which had received a "preliminary outcome".

"All [other] stores in the South have received confirmed roster changes, which take into account the feedback from those teams and changes have subsequently been made."

The Otago Daily Times has seen a response staff gave to The Warehouse after they were told about the roster changes.

"Key parts of the proposal, such as about the number of staffing hours per week and how they are structured, has felt prescriptive, top-down, non-transparent, and with a lack of regard to people’s concerns," the response said.

One worker lambasted the company for its "disheartening, cold and calculated" proposal.

"I have never seen a company tear its backbone out," the staff member said.

"It has ripped the heart and soul out, it has belittled and demoralised its staff."

The worker went on to say that after years of service - working 40 hours a week - they had to be "scored" on how many hours they could get.

"You have played team member against each other for hours, you have made us feel worthless and even suicidal.

"You have made us feel unsafe and like we have a target on our back because customers are frustrated and angry now, and you tell us this is what the customer wants!"

Ms Mitchell said the South Dunedin store appeared to have had the worst changes to hours compared with the stores in Mosgiel and Oamaru.

A spokeswoman from The Warehouse Group said the company was aware of the comment one worker felt suicidal.

The company’s HR department was working with the store’s team to "try and understand who that person is to try and make sure they have the support they need", the spokeswoman said.

Union members at the Oamaru Warehouse praised the store’s managers for applying what was asked from national headquarters "in a way that has so far reduced distress for many people".

When it announced its proposal, The Warehouse said it needed to match the needs of customers who were shopping online more and at different times of the day and weekends.



Playing workers against each other is restructuring practice.

This is the sort of business you choose to support.

Loyalty has been dead and gone for decades.
It's always the foot soldiers that get shot first

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