27 Jul 2016

Countdown plans 'incredibly upsetting' for workers

2:29 pm on 27 July 2016

The union representing supermarket workers is calling on Woolworths to come clean about which of the country's Countdown supermarkets it plans to close.

Woolworths Australia has announced its closing 30 stores in Australasia including six in New Zealand, but it said some of those would be replaced.

Countdown Takapuna

Countdown Takapuna Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

First Union represents about 6500 supermarket workers.

It's secretary, Maxine Gay, said the announcement came as a shock and although two of the closures were signalled - Waihi has already closed and Rangiora is about to close - they have no idea where the other four shops are.

"We're calling on Countdown to tell us, because although the announcement is only about six, it's had an incredibly unsettling affect on all Countdown workers.

"They're calling the union member support, they're calling their organisers, wanting to know whether or not it's their shop, how safe they are and we of course are not able to tell them, because we don't know."

James Walker, spokesman for Countdown New Zealand, said yesterday Rangiora store was shutting its doors in October.

Another was being shut temporarily while a replacement was being built, and the other four shops slated for closure could not yet be named.

"These closures are unlikely to happen this financial year. As we always do, we will work with team affected by closures to transfer to nearby stores."

Ms Gay said the impact on staff and the possibility of deployment to other stores depended which supermarkets were shut down.

"If the shop closes in a major city, then that well may have a lower impact on people. But if it's in a secondary centre then that's going to have an enormous impact, because there won't be other jobs for people in secondary centres," she said.

"We know that the new shops that are opening have been in the pipeline for quite a long period of time.

"There's Ashburton, Aotea and Beachlands, they're all well known that these are new shops that are coming. And refurbished one's on Waiheke and Mosgiel ... does that mean that when they open the new shop in Waiheke, they're counting closing the old one as part of the closures or is that a different one altogether?

"So I'm not in any sort of position to assess what the impact is going to be on people, until they tell us precisely where those shops are that are going to close," she said.