9 Jun 2020

Warehouse job cuts: 'I'm angry' - Jacinda Ardern

9:42 am on 9 June 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is "angry" at proposed job losses at The Warehouse chain.

No caption

The Warehouse store. Photo: Supplied

More than 1000 jobs may go in a restructure The Warehouse Group said had been accelerated by Covid-19.

Closures are confirmed for The Warehouse store in Birkenhead and Noel Leeming stores in Papanui and at The Palms in Christchurch.

Another six stores may close - Noel Leeming in Henderson and Tokoroa, The Warehouse stores in Whangaparaoa, Johnsonsville and Dunedin Central, and Warehouse Stationery in Te Awamutu. The Warehouse has had $52 million under the government's wage subsidy scheme, and Noel Leeming received $12m.

"I'm angry, if I'm speaking frankly," Ardern told Morning Report.

"At the moment I'm getting hundreds of letters from small-business owners who are giving up everything to try and keep their staff on.

"They are running down whatever reserves they had. They're prioritising trying to keep their business afloat but also trying to keep their people on because that's what they've prioritised.

"The government of course and taxpayers are taking a huge hit because we are prioritising trying to keep as many businesses and individuals employed and up and running as we can.

"I'd like to see the same attitude applied by some of our large organisations in New Zealand."

Ardern said she was aware the company had been restructuring and if that was the reason for job losses, they should give that as a reason.

'I will be struggling'

A worker made redundant from the Warehouse fears she will struggle to find another job when the Birkenhead store closes next month.

Sole parent Ana Gray has been made redundant after more than 10 years at the Birkenhead store.

"It's going to be really hard. I can tell you now I will be struggling to get through it."

"The redundancy money, it's going to be there, but it's not going to last.

"With Covid-19 and a lot of people losing jobs other places it's hard to look somewhere else."

Gray, in her late 50s, said if any job did come up at The Warehouse she would have to reapply, and though she planned to look elsewhere she feared companies would not take on older workers.

"I've got all the experience with customer service and all that but they're going to look at my age and then they say well who wants to hire someone who's actually over 50 for this position, because they're going to look at the young ones.

"There's nothing there - everyone else is losing their jobs. It's going to be really hard.

Her union had been supportive and was contacting other companies in an effort to find jobs, she said.