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The Warehouse employees feel 'disrespected' over hundreds of job losses after company claimed wage subsidy

The Warehouse employees are feeling disrespected after the company used the Government's wage subsidy scheme but is now axing work for hundreds of people.

The Warehouse. Source: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

FIRST Union representative Tali Williams told 1 NEWS it's expected about 600 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions would go - made up of people losing their jobs and hours being cut for others. 

She said the union had been pushing The Warehouse for a figure on the number of staff likely to be impacted since proposals started.

On Friday they were told 300 FTEs - but that was only union members so it's estimated the number is likely double.

Those affected were from throughout the country.

"There's been a lot of confusion with their jobs and their contracts ... uncertainties and fears for the future," Williams said.

"People are saying goodbye to colleagues they've been close with for 15 to 20 years.

"There's a lot of emotion, it's real tough."

The Warehouse has undertaken several rounds of redundancies over the past few years, however when asked if there was extra pressure because of Covid-19, Williams said "people feel disrespected" because of the loyalty they'd shown to the company.

They felt like the company taking the Government's wage subsidy meant they were "needlessly cutting hours".

Jobs are also under threat at head office, it has previously been reported. 

Last week, the retail giant reported a profit of $44.5 million for the year ending early August, which was down 32 per cent on last year.

However, it said the result was only possible because of $67.8m it received in wage subsidies, without which it said it would have posted a loss of $4.3m.

The company has been criticised by unions, the Government and during the election campaign for carrying out restructuring and redundancies while getting the subsidy, though.

It was announced in June that The Warehouse would be restructuring, a plan it says was always in the works and was just brought forward due to Covid-19. 

The Warehouse issued the following statement to 1 NEWS: "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.

"Therefore it is even more important that our rosters align with customer shopping habits which is what we are working through.

"This process has been ongoing since June. We are working closely with our team members through this process and we won’t know specifics of how many people will not take rostered hours until the process is complete.

"Back in June we estimated 320 full time equivalent roles across our 92 The Warehouse stores would be impacted."