A restructure proposal across dozens of The Warehouse stores in New Zealand has been confirmed, with workers across the stores being told about the changes this week.
A spokesperson for The Warehouse confirmed the company expects to cut around 320 full-time equivalent jobs - a total of 12,800 hours per week from its staff rosters.
That would not mean 320 people would lose their jobs completely, as the cuts are partially made up of reductions in the number of hours offered to staff.
They added that they won't know the final number of jobs affected or hours reduced until the process is complete, but First Union has said "the plan will disadvantage thousands of workers".
Tali Williams, First Union's secratary for retail and finance, said many members at The Warehouse had chosen to take voluntary redundancy rather than be faced with unworkable, disruptive hours, and said the job losses will lead to a significant number of experienced staff being let go.
She said the lack of staff in stores after the restructure would likely be noticed by customers, and said staff had raised concerns about their ability to carry out current store duties under the new rosters.
Workers at several branches were told of the decision to proceed with the restructure yesterday, and a spokesperson for The Warehouse confirmed that meetings with staff are ongoing.
"Based on the input from our team, The Warehouse has reached broad agreement with 30 stores on proposed new rostered hours that reflect customers' needs," the spokesperson said.
"These stores are expected to move to updated rosters from early-October.
"The Warehouse has this week commenced a series of meetings with the remaining stores where availability provided didn’t match with the proposed rosters.
"While we are never happy to have to make changes that may impact people's roles, our store rosters have not changed for many years.
"Over time we have found more customers choosing to shop at nights and weekends, and more customers shopping online and using Click&Collect, particularly since Covid-19.
"The process, which began in June, has been to work with First Union and our store team representatives to understand their rostered hours availability at each store, discuss how customer shopping habits are changing and how we might need to adapt our rostered hours for each individual store.
"Based on feedback from team members during this process to date, we have also made changes to the proposed rosters."
During consultation with The Warehouse, Williams said the company had initially planned to cut twice the amount of hours, but had faced pushback from workers who told them it wasn't possible to run the stores with that staffing level, and in response The Warehouse had reduced the number of hours being cut.
Williams said the changes are the last thing workers need at "such a precarious point in history".
"Unfortunately, The Warehouse have made it clear that it's profit before people in terms of their future operations, and so the restructure will continue as planned, but the fight is far from over," Williams said.
"The pandemic shouldn't be seen as a backdrop for this restructure, and I urge other companies not to look to The Warehouse's opportunistic example and instead invest in their workers and their communities when they need it most.
"Good employers are keeping their staff on, paying people more, up-skilling and hiring new people, and they will be the ones who benefit in the longer-term recovery from the pandemic, as will the communities they are part of."
Williams said First Union will now look to support workers through the process to ensure they are treated fairly and receive all their entitlements.
The Warehouse has undertaken several rounds of redundancies over the past few years.