A union is decrying Fletcher Building's plans to cut pay by up to 70 per cent, saying top executives would earn "megabucks".
Joe Gallagher, E tū negotiation specialist, said the unfairness was "incredible".
Fletcher has 10,000 employees here and a further 5000 in Australia, is cutting pay by as much as 70 per cent to some staff, resulting in a union
Last night, the company sent a letter to all employees outlining their proposal which would see thousands of workers severely out of pocket for many weeks.
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"We expect companies to do the right thing and pay all workers 100 per cent of their average weekly earnings, especially companies like Fletchers who can easily afford it," Gallagher 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% cut in their pay. It shows a lack of respect for the workforce that keeps their company moving. It shows that they don't seem to care about families getting through the crisis," Gallagher said.
Pay cuts by New Zealand's biggest builder range from 20 per cent to 70 per cent in the next 12 weeks, because the Government's support is simply not enough, its chief says.
"Employees not working over the 12-week period - weeks one to four, an average of 80 per cent of their normal base pay; weeks five to eight, 50 per cent of their base pay; weeks nine to 12 30 per cent of their base pay," an announcement from chief executive Ross Taylor said.
"Employees required to work during the lockdown as essential services or support, except senior executives, will continue to receive 100 per cent of their base pay," he said.
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Fletcher said it was "consulting with its workforce to introduce a bridging pay programme in response to the Covid-19 lockdown across all its New Zealand operations to provide certainty for its people around pay for the next 12 weeks."
Taylor said: "In New Zealand, which is where most of our group-wide profits are generated, we are now having to make decisions on how to manage our business in an environment with no production, no sales and therefore extremely limited income, for a yet undetermined period.
"As we make these decisions, we are adopting some guiding principles: We want to support our people through the current uncertainty and provide clarity around pay so our people who are not working can plan ahead. At the same time, we need to tightly manage our financial position to ensure that our business remains resilient and in a strong position to resume operations, as when the restrictions are lifted. We also need to factor in that any restart would be a gradual process," he said.
Fletcher had made several significant moves to preserve its cash levels, including cancelling our interim dividend and its on-market share buyback programme, as well as substantially reducing costs and capital expenditure.
"Despite these actions, we are simply not able to continue to pay all our New Zealand people who are unable to work at 100 per cent of their normal pay over the lockdown and ramp up period," Taylor said.
The Government's 12-week wage subsidy programme was supporting businesses and employees would help cover some costs and assist with the significant financial implications the closure of our operations will have.
"The wage subsidy programme is a helpful contribution to the total support package we have created for our New Zealand people," Taylor said.
"Importantly, no one will fall below the Government wage subsidy amounts during this period, unless they already earn less than this amount. The subsidy is $585.80 gross for anyone working more than 20 hours per week, and $350.00 gross for anyone working fewer than 20 hours per week.
"We are now consulting with our people who are not working on the new pay arrangements. However, this will be a compressed process to provide certainty for our people.
The programme being proposed is broken down over the 12-week period with the ability to use accrued and entitled leave to top up to normal pay through the period, he said.
Senior executives had agreed to a 15 per cent pay cut through the lockdown period. This includes the executive team, directors, general managers and other senior leaders.
"Our people have been incredibly strong and supportive and I'm really proud of the enormous amount of work that has gone into preparing our business for the lockdown. This is an evolving situation, which means that we may need to review as circumstances and the Government's response changes," Taylor said.
"We're confident that the pay programme we are putting in place strikes the right balance between looking after our people and ensuring the long-term resilience of our business over this uniquely challenging period," Taylor said.
Union comment to the announcement issued yesterday is being sought.