Coronavirus: Fletcher Building proposes huge staff pay cuts, union claims executives will keep earning 'megabucks'

A union is outraged about the proposed pay cuts.
A union is outraged about the proposed pay cuts. Photo credit: Getty

E tū union members at Fletcher Building are in shock following news the company intends to cut pay by 70 percent.

The move would see thousands of workers severely out of pocket for many weeks.

Negotiation specialist Joe Gallagher says it's "unbelievable" the company wants employees to take such a gigantic pay cut while executives take a cut of 15 percent.

He says it shows a lack of respect and is calling for proper consultation.

"We expect companies to do the right thing and pay all workers 100 percent of their average weekly earnings, especially companies like Fletchers who can easily afford it," he said.

"It’s frankly unbelievable that they want workers to take such a gigantic pay cut while the higher-ups, who earn up to half a million dollars a year, will take just a 15 percent cut in their pay.

"It shows a lack of respect for the workforce that keeps their company moving."

A Fletcher Building spokesman told Newshub the proposal - a "bridging pay proposal" - will only apply to people not working during the next 12 weeks.

For the first four weeks workers will receive 80 percent of their normal pay, four weeks after that 50 percent, and 30 percent for the remaining four weeks, he said.

"Employees who continue to work over the period are paid 100 percent of their usual wage.

"Senior executives working over the lockdown period will take a 15 percent pay cut."

The spokesman said senior executives not working during the next 12 weeks will be on the same bridging pay conditions as everyone else.

But E tū claims it shows a lack of care for its workers.

"This is not a struggling company," Gallagher said.

"They have massive public and private contracts and could absolutely afford to keep everyone employed with the pay rates that union members have fought hard to secure.

"Instead, they’re passing the cost of COVID-19 directly onto the workers. It’s outrageous."

In a statement on Wednesday, Fletcher chief executive Ross Taylor said the company needed to tightly manage its financial position while supporting its people through the current uncertainty.

"The Government’s 12-week wage subsidy programme to support businesses and employees will help cover some costs and assist with the significant financial implications the closure of our operations will have. 

"Importantly, no one will fall below the Government wage subsidy amounts during this period, unless they already earn less than this amount.

"We are now consulting with our people who are not working on the new pay arrangements."