Closure of Bunnings stores 'came out of the blue' for workers - union

By Katie Todd of RNZ

Two Bunnings stores in the North Island are abruptly closing before the New Year, putting about 30 to 40 jobs on the line.

The stores in Waikanae, on the Kāpiti Coast, and Te Aroha, Waikato, will shut down on Friday but First Union said workers found out about the closures only on Monday.

The union, which represents about eight of the workers, is accusing Bunnings of blindsiding staff with the news and not giving them enough information about why the stores are closing.

Organiser Kirstin Miller said Bunnings told affected staff last week it was considering redundancies, at which time First Union requested the consultation period was suspended until the new year.

Miller said its request was denied, but staff staff weren't expecting to learn yesterday the stores would be closed in four days.

"It totally came out of the blue. That's one of the worst things about it," she said.

Miller said staff were told there was work for them until late January - possibly packing up the stores - but it was not clear yet whether they would be made redundant, or moved.

"The problem is there's not really any nearby stores for these workers to be easily redeployed to. So there's issues around whether they'd be willing to move, or whether Bunnings would give them compensation for travel."

She said one worker at the Te Aroha store had already been redeployed earlier this year from the Paeroa Bunnings when that closed due to flood damage.

Another worker employed at the Waikanae store for two years told the union they were shocked and angry at the closure, because staff had lives and friendships there, and the store was doing a roaring trade.

Bunnings has been contacted but has not yet made any comment.

Kāpiti Coast district councillor Rob McCann said closing stores at such short notice was acting without care for the community.

"Employees at the Kāpiti cheese factory were at least given six months to find new employment," he said.

"Four days notice over Christmas is unacceptable. It's my hope that any further decision from the company takes into account the workers and their families."