Farmlands may transfer 100 support roles

The Farmlands Dunedin complex on Cumberland St.PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The Farmlands Dunedin complex on Cumberland St.PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Farmlands is proposing to shift its Dunedin business to Christchurch, putting 100 jobs here at risk.

The farming co-operative’s chief executive, Peter Reidie, confirmed the proposal was now before staff, but said a final decision had yet to be made.

"Any mention of job losses at this stage is premature," Mr Reidie said.

"The proposal as it stands is to relocate staff in the Dunedin support office to Christchurch and any proposed job ‘losses’ would therefore be limited."

Mr Reidie said Farmlands was "committed to the consultation process and hearing directly from our people."

There are about 100 jobs at Farmlands in Dunedin — separated between about 25 at the national contact centre and about 70 in the processing teams.

"Under the current proposal, similar roles are proposed to be available for staff at our Christchurch support office and limited roles would remain in Dunedin.

"It is not proposed that all roles would move to Christchurch.”

A source close to Farmlands said staff were upset about the proposal.

"It’s a big blow to them all," and it was unlikely staff in Dunedin would want to move to Christchurch.

"It’s not a great time for all these people that have given long and loyal service to the company.

There might be "a few" who would be willing to go.

"But most of the staff have family or work ties in Dunedin ... Therefore it’s not easy to move and very few for those reasons could or would be willing to move."

A decision on the proposal to shift Farmlands operations is expected at the end of July.

"This may change depending on the feedback we receive as we are committed to finding the best solution for our co-operative, our shareholders and out people across the country," Mr Reidie said.

The Dunedin Farmlands retail store in Cumberland St would remain open under the proposal, Mr Reidie said.

The company wanted to be more "adaptable" in difficult trading conditions.

"That involves reorganising teams that have been spread disparately, to work more closely together.

"We are working through this proposal in the hopes that any change, once finalised, would bring more value and benefits to our 70,000 shareholders across New Zealand."

He reiterated it was a proposal and that it could change "significantly if during the consultation process we find an opportunity to work in a more effective way while operating in two locations".

North Island-based Farmlands Trading Society Ltd merged with South Island-based CRT Co-operative in 2013 to become the one Farmlands co-operative.

The company cut about 30 jobs in Dunedin in 2014 when it centralised its administration support in Christchurch.

On that occasion staff were given two weeks to provide feedback on the proposal but in the end it was largely unaffected.

Comments

"That involves reorganising teams that have been spread disparately, to work more closely together"

Perhaps someone could describe the workings of "Zoom" video conferencing to Mr Reidie?!
It appears that Farmlands are moving in the opposite direction to most other Kiwi businesses by wanting staff to 'huddle' together during a time of worldwide virus alerts.....What a strange decision!

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