Workers at the Rotorua Foodstuffs distribution centre are slowly being replaced by temporary staff with confirmation the site will close near the end of 2020, according to First Union but Foodstuffs says staff aren't being replaced

First Union local representative Phil Graham said he understood workers were actively looking for alternative employment.

"I've been told several of the permanent staff have moved on after gaining employment elsewhere," Graham said.

"Permanent positions are being filled by temporary staff until the site closes."

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He said there were only a handful of union members still employed at the distribution centre.

Closure of the centre is part of a North Island reshuffle within the company, which includes the construction of office and distribution centres, based at The Landing Business Park, Auckland Airport.

Antoinette Laird, head of external relations for Foodstuffs, said the building of the new Foodstuffs North Island Distribution Centre (DC) at The Landing, Auckland Airport, had only just begun so she could not confirm exact closure timelines.

"We can confirm that the Rotorua distribution centre will close once the new distribution centre is built and operational and that this is likely to take place towards the end of 2020.

"We are in regular communication with our colleagues in Rotorua and our focus is on supporting them throughout this transition. We are constantly looking for opportunities across our wider operations and stores in the region."

Laird said Foodstuffs was not replacing permanent staff with temporary staff as alleged by First Union.

"In fact we are currently converting some agency staff to permanent staff. We have always employed a number of temporary staff to cover peak periods and this will continue if needed."

"The headcount at our Rotorua Distribution Centre has been pretty much the same over the last two years and currently sits at 59. All staff are fully informed of what's underway and how we are able to support them."

She said, at this stage, Foodstuffs could not speculate on redundancy numbers.

"2020 is a long way off so to hypothesise on what the numbers will look like two years from now is premature. We currently have 59 permanent team members based at the Rotorua DC."

Graham said the Rotorua distribution centre had been winding down for the past few years.

"The workers have felt it was coming, because of the loss of suppliers and staff leaving and not being replaced, changes of managers. They've always had concerns it would be closing at some stage," Graham said.

"We'll be working through it [the proposal] and seeing what we can secure for the workers, whether it be redundancy compensation or redeployment. All these options we'll be looking at.

"There's a bit of work to be done out there."