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Staff at The Warehouse in Oamaru are facing a reduction of hours as part of a nationwide company restructure.

First Union organiser Sonja Mitchell said “most” Oamaru staff had to agree to a cut of their guaranteed hours per week.

“For many of them, they were already on below 40 guaranteed hours per week to begin with,” Ms Mitchell said.

“It makes it difficult for people to have enough money to live off.”

The Warehouse held meetings with staff at 62 of its 92 stores last week to confirm it would go ahead with a proposal to overhaul rosters, First Union said.

While the Oamaru branch was less affected than others, and The Warehouse had made some concessions following discussions, Ms Mitchell said the changes would have an impact on staff, including some who had worked there for more than 20 years.

Employees would have less job security and income, and heavier workloads, Ms Mitchell said. She feared changes would also affect their mental and physical health, and it would result in longer waits and reduced service for customers.

Ms Mitchell said some some Oamaru staff members, who wished to remain anonymous, had told her the company was putting too much focus on its online sales and staff were stressed.

“The Warehouse has been pushing to get changes .. they spent all week hammering that bloody [online] marketplace,” one staff member wrote to Ms Mitchell.

“This is a friendly community with a lot of customers who know the staff, including a lot of older customers. They are going to miss the personal service,” another told her.

A Warehouse spokesman told the Oamaru Mail the store was reacting to the changing shopping habits of customers.

More people were shopping at weekends and at night, and choosing products online then picking them up from the physical store.

“While we are never happy to have to make changes that may impact people’s roles, our store rosters have not changed for many years,” the spokesman said.

“Based on feedback from team members during this process to date, we have also made changes to the proposed rosters.”

The Warehouse Oamaru is expected to move to updated rosters from early October.