Well done to Ballentynes for hanging off on redundancies as long as they have.

Major Christchurch department store Ballantynes is laying off up to 40 staff in a restructuring exercise following the 22nd February earthquake.

Managing director Mary Devine the move saying; “We are going through a full consultation with staff on the proposed restructure. It’s important to note that we will still maintain staffing levels in excess of 250 in support and sales staff for our City Mall shop.”

Ballantynes employ 400 staff. They have branches in Timaru, Christchurch airport and the main store in central Christchurch which has been out of action since the February earthquake.

“We have already had very good feedback from staff during this process including ideas such as job sharing. It is only when this process is complete that we will know exactly the appropriate staff numbers. On a more positive side, we are looking to increase staff in our Timaru store and Customer Services section,” she said.

Devine said the company was working towards its re-opening in the centre of the city on 29th October.

Devine said staff welfare had been of paramount concern and that is why the company had continued to pay staff for the last five months. But unfortunately this is now unsustainable for the company”.

Comment

Ballantynes is to be applauded for sticking with their staff for so long after the February earthquake. It is certainly the exception rather than the rule for a profit driven company to retain staff when they don’t have to.

On a wider note the whole issue of corporate restructuring has become increasingly shrouded in bullshit management ‘speak’.

Standard practice seems to be for senior management to get in expensive consultants to come and assess the organisation with a view to restructuring. The motives behind why major restructures are done in the first place is a whole other topic.

These consultants interview key staff and come up with a plan to better align the company to its current operating environment. At this point the plan is going to be carried out with only possible minor alterations. Management are not going to announce job losses if there are not going to be job losses.

Then the organisation embarks on a consultation period with staff whereby affected staff will usually explain what a bad idea the whole thing is. This period of ‘consultation’ is usually a sham. The company has already decided what it is going to do. The consultation has more in common with a condemned person being asked if there is anything they want to say before they are executed. Nothing they say is going to change the end result.

The whole elongated process is done to satisfy the Employment Relations Act requirement of ‘good faith’. The fact that restructures have become so PR focussed is all about limiting corporate exposure to personal grievances.