The Warehouse: Where Shareholders get a Bargain



I love chocolate. My preference is for the dark 70 or 80 % stuff but at a push I will settle for dairy milk or even white chocolate. When I stumbled across the new Whittaker’s artisan range I got very excited. There was no avoiding it. There were huge bins of the bars at the entrance to my supermarket. It was between me and the fruit.  I bought three of the stylishly slim, classically presented, more expensive blocks to take to work and share. That way I could just sample them without over indulging. What can I say? I’m sure my colleagues will be thrilled to know I thought about them and it is after all the thought that counts.

Buying chocolate is no longer the straightforward act it used to be. Now the variety is huge but so is the pressure on the ethical consumer. Sometimes I am an ethical consumer. In other words when I can afford morals I try to buy, fair trade, palm oil free chocolate that hasn’t been made by child slave labour. The rest of the time I buy what’s on sale. At least I can relax knowing that in New Zealand our youth aren’t subject to child labour slavery. Exploitation on the other hand, well that is a little more subjective.

I bought my chocolate at Countdown. They don’t pay youth rates. The Warehouse also doesn’t pay youth rates. They have a better system. They just don’t pay youth at all. You can feel relaxed about it though, this is not exploitation, this is work experience! They even have a name. They are called the “Red Shirts.”

Work experience is nothing new. When I did work experience it was in the equivalent of year ten. After a discussion with our home room teacher about possible career paths we discussed jobs in that field and then the school organised it with local employers. The whole concept was around dreams and aspirations. At the time I was obsessed with horses. The idea was to step into that role for a week. This would then help us tailor our selection of subjects a going forward. I chose to do my work experience at a stock and station agent. Now I work for a union. Result.

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The Red Shirts work for six hours, two days a week for a ten week period. At the end they get a certificate. What the Red Shirts do is stock shelves. They don’t work on the tills, and according to the staff I asked they rarely end up in paid work. Some might score a few hours over the holidays but it seldom eventuates into anything more. This is business. If you were in the Warehouses position would you employ them? It reminds me of the old adage that a wise man never marries his mistress because all he’s doing is creating a vacancy. Isn’t this the same premise?

One store I visited had ten Red Shirts working. On other days they had other schools so to differentiate they called them Black Shirts and White Shirts. As yet there are no Brown Shirts but I’m sure it is only a matter of time. The work that they are doing used to be done by paid workers. The ten students, working for six hours are providing $885 worth of free labour in just one day. Over six days that is $5310 of saved wages in just one store. If you were inclined to extrapolate, The Warehouse group has 242 retail sites and 92 Red Sheds.

There is of course a bigger picture being played out here. Stocking shelves now earns you NCEA credits and if you discover that stocking shelves is your passion you can now go to Massey University and get a degree in retail. Yes, you can start your retail career with a twenty thousand dollar debt but you will have a degree that is specifically tailored to retail. A Bachelor of Retail and Business Management. If you love your study (or a more likely scenario that even with a BRBM you don’t find yourself fast tracked to management) you can continue by getting a greater student loan and doing a postgrad degree. You can do an MA in retail.

I am not being scathing or in any way dismissive of the thousands of people that work in retail. I am questioning whether or not this kind of investment in an area where hours of work are poorly paid and increasingly insecure is the best educational investment. This system is also undermining the paid work of The Warehouse workers. When The Warehouse’s fulltime are staff leaving they are being replaced by casual contractors. The casual pool of hours is being eroded by children working for free. Children working for nothing, stocking the shelves’ with products from Bangladesh, made by exploited workers, in some of the most inhumane work conditions on the planet. We are perpetuating a cycle of exploitation that enables underpaid workers to be able to buy cheap clothes. It is all they can afford.

The Red Shirt programme is not a violation of child labour practice as defined by the ILO and this is a far cry from children being sold into slavery so I can have competitively priced chocolate. The question here though is, is this type of work experience about inspiration or exploitation? Who really benefits? Is this the work experience that will motivate our children into meaningful work or is this just the beginning of the conditioning that normalises the idea that their labour is literally worthless? We may have stopped sending children down the mines but aren’t the malls and the mega stores just the mines of modernity? Is this the future we dream of for our children and is this really the best we can offer?


  1. It doesn’t seem long ago that The Warehouse gained great kudos by announcing they’d pay nothing less than living wage. What happened?

  2. Seems child slave labour is already thriving in NZ, after reading Kate’s blog! I thought it would only be a matter of time.

    Red Shirts, Black Shirts, White Shirts. No Brown Shirts yet at the Warehouse, as Kate says. No, they are all disguised in corporates and government!

    The Brown Shirts are well established here, throwing their obnoxious weight around, preying on and bullying the vulnerable! It’s how these parasites thrive.

    Next “innovative” move for Warehouse like corporations? Could be to include attached minimum basic accommodation, sheds etc, then the cheap labour force will be on hand, ready to work on demand! Workhouses they are called!

    The Warehouse Workhouse has a certain ring to it!

  3. Are you suggesting that an Arts degreee would be a better option? The large numbers of underemployed Arts Graduates would tend to support the counter argument.

    • Hey, Gosman, plenty of other people under-employed as well. Not just arts graduates.

      If there wasn’t a value or demand for arts degrees, no one would take it, right? Market rulez and all that shit?

      • The trouble is many University courses aren’t funded on a market basis. If they were we would have far fewer Arts course placements available and far more Science and Engineering opportunities.

        • Christ, Gosman, you’d fit into a Soviet-style system perfectly. Your ability to dictate what courses are required and what people should study, to fit into the Five Year Plan, reminds me of what my parents left behind…

          How about you mind your own business. Stick to your computers and gadgets.

          • Except the funding formula required by Universities does entail a large amount of Soviet style central planning. The Government has to provide the majority of the funding to Universities for the courses they offer. As a result they need to make the decisions you decry. Of course if the courses were entirely self funding…

        • Arts degrees produce people who are free thinkers. Arts degrees help people decide where their strengths are and open up new opportunities for them. Sir Robert Jones believes this too. Arts degrees won’t get you a job by themselves, so I suppose in your narrow field of thinking Gosman, this means they are worth nothing.

    • I recommend a degree in trolling, you are an expert, perhaps you want to start your own tutoring and study program, and sell it to interested persons?

    • Rack off Gosman – stop proffering your right-wing gobshite here and go back to pulling the wings off flies.

    • What Gosman has done here is classic misdirection. The central point of the article of the exploitative nature of the “red shirts” program, which even Gosman knows is indefensible, so he raises a tangential issue (the relative merit of retail and arts degrees) to distract us from it.

      Crawl back to your Crosby-Textor masters, and tell them their time is nearly up.

  4. Thank you Kate. This story is sickening.
    What have our generation done to make this such a normal occurrence. This is such a disgusting practise, exploitation at it’s best. Who needs 120 hours experience stacking shelves?
    The worst part of this story is that our educators are condoning this to the point of offering NCEA credits.
    Stephen Tindall and his Tindall Foundation are a disgrace.
    I am ashamed of my generation we have allowed these disgraceful working conditions to flourish.

  5. “Stocking shelves now earns you NCEA credits”

    it seems just standing there looking at someone stock the shelves can get you NCEA marks.

    Education NZ style … getting children ready for being exploitated
    by rip off uncaring money hungry unsavoury wannabe NZers

    Makes my blood boil that the youth of today have such a hard time of just getting a paid job, don’t people realise that a happy youth in well paid exciting work being appreciated, will not go on to rape kill rob assault and generally be a pain in the arse of the people who are trying so desperately to rip them off.
    How we treat our youth of today will shape how they behave as grand parents, has no one in the business world got any futuristic forethought about this?

  6. Now this is the sort of thing business gets away with without a unionised labour force. This is the sort of thing that happens when we have a morphed Employment Contracts Act pretending its an Employment Relations Act.

    This is precisely the sort of thing where these Acts were intended to head. And now we have arrived.

    Big business must be abuzz at the Warehouse’s success in pulling this rort off.

    $5310 .00 saved in wages in one week , eh?

    Not bad going whoever dream’t that one up.

    Nice way to get around paying their way and paying for services provided – with the NCEA carrot dangled in front of them as well , eh?

    Now…surely this ….must be the most blatant and open case of corporate bludging and sense of entitlement that ever has been made public in recent days – save for slaves on fishing vessels from Asia fishing in our waters…

    And whats worse…using guile and deceit to entice children to work for free….

    This is about as far as the bottom of the barrel that we in NZ have ever scraped.


    • Well said indeed, but I bet you $14 that there is still plenty of sludge in the barrel to be scooped out and served up as progress…

  7. I was in Kiwi Bank recently and noticed a nice, glossy little display showing SIR Steven Tindall and yankee doodle psycho jonky-stien promoting a ballot for New Zealander of The Year. I complained about it arguing that I didn’t think it was appropriate to have a man who made a fortune out of slave labour ( I was meaning foreign slave labour at that time ) and a known abuser, bully and conman being on display in my bank touting for votes for New Zealander of The Year . The irony made me get just a little bit of sick up. Particularly since one was known for destroying small retailers,in low density rural NZ towns particularly, and the other was a conman and liar and best known for using financialised capitalism to rort millions and who produced nothing in return for his country or its people. Unless one considers terrible societal dysfunction as a positive of course . Mind you, if one were Serco , a foreign bank or a money lender scumbag then, yes , perhaps jonky’s a positive influence?

    The Kiwi Bank staff member said ” Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to complain . “

    • Well done you COUNTRYBOY 🙂

      I will go into my local Kiwibank and do the same 🙂 Us Kiwibank clients, shouldn’t be confronted with this type of obscenity in our bank!

      • I was going to join Kiwi Bank but Gareth Morgan Investments GMI is owned by Kiwi Wealth Management Ltd which is owned by Kiwi Group Holdings Ltd which owns Kiwi Bank Ltd. Phew….and if you keep following the leads of the director’s names they take you into the PM’s inner kingdom. Sorry, no honest banks or corporations in New Zealand anymore. I’d love to stand corrected.

        • Interesting Helena.

          I always thought Kiwibank was wholly state owned, one of the reasons we joined up when it first started years ago and also the fact, profits stay in NZ. Well for now they do.

          I knew Gareth Morgan Investments administered the bank’s KiwiSaver scheme. Didn’t realize the company owned part of the bank!

  8. I would agree with you @ Gosman . An Arts degrees has become an anachronism. Indeed, the large numbers of unemployed Arts Graduates is an indication of a lack of appreciation from this bloodless corpse of a country , parasitised to death my money fetishists, wandering Zombies in suits , driving fancy cars and nesting in bland offices fiddling with buttons and rejoicing at numbers flickering on screens showing the decaying species of artistic human-being doomed to extinction . As feeble sperms float aimlessly about in barren wombs, when the last spark of passion’s spent from the flaccid loins of the last two old artisan lovers is done, then so are we. Where there is no art, there can be no humanity.

    • Absolutely true Country Boy thanks for saying that.
      Incidentally my new painting called Radiance; Deep Reflection about the six mass extinction event caused by our insane dominant culture is on the front page collection of this week.

      I say to all ‘young people’ wake up and run away from this mess, turn your back on this insane dominant culture, live like a wild thing, have fun doing what you love.
      @gosman, the accountant who shot the giraffe and the dentist who shot the lion Cecil for FUN are your heroes along with 50 million dollar man DonKey do you see yet how fucked we are? This insane lot are on a mission of ecocide!

    • “bloodless corpse of a country ”

      America when will you be angelic?
      When will you take off your clothes?
      When will you look at yourself through the grave?
      When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
      America why are your libraries full of tears?

  9. By the way, Gosman, nice deflection and avoidance of the issue raised here; exploitation of young people. Got anything to say about that?

    Oh look, there’s a flag referendsum! ***pioooww!***

    • Nice deflection from what? There doesn’t seem to be an issue here. Noone is forcing these young people to try and get some work experience. They are not being tricked to provided their labour for free. They volunarily choose to do so presumably because they think it will help them get a job later on. Good on them I say.

      • What fucking choice?

        All your sweet kindly captains of industry make it plain that if you don’t have a record of “voluntary work”, you won’t be considered for employment.

        In other words play by OUR rules or no workee.

        What your scrofulous band of privateers don’t say is that they are not going to employ you anyway. There is no work. It’s all just lies, damned lies.

        Also, I’d like to know what pressure WINZ puts on the unemployed to play this deceptive shitty game. If it’s a requirement for the Unemployment Benefit, then there is no choice.

        Allow me to hold the rock up for you, so you can crawl back under it with those mediaeval ideas you call “progressive”…

      • “Not tricked”, you say?

        Would you work for free? If the answer is yes, I have a house to paint; backyard to tidy up; and, oh, wash my car while you’re at it.

        In return, you can have a glass of water. (Bring your own glass.)

      • Ignorant people like you ‘gosman’ actually exist. But really? You don’t see a problem here?
        Our government is using the schooling system to create more profit for their corporate ceo friends… I had no idea this even existed. Haven’t been to a warehouse in ages but for that to get you credits towards your schooling… That is ridiculous. Have a classroom setup to teach them if that’s actually the aim.
        Even in Australia people under 18 have workers rights….


  10. I Won’t shop there anymore, and I’ll ring the bastards up and let them know what I think. I have heard directly that this is going on in other retail outlets in Auckland as well,and not just with young people.
    Why aren’t their any MSM stories on this?

  11. Unbelievable that just last night we had the livestreamed debate on the living wage at the Selwyn retirement homes and the plight of carers working for minimum wages and long hours….

    Its a total mind fuck that this shits going on and on and on and on…

    Almost as bad as those wankers who even dare to speak of a ‘ rockstar ‘ economy.

    Fucking livid .

  12. The Warehouse love to make a song and dance about paying a living wage but if you are new and have not clocked up several thousand hours you will be paid barely above minimum wage. And they use zero hours and will not provide reliable defined hours as well.

    This company is like so many others, living off the back of an illusionary pretence that they are above all the crap that is dealt out by McDonald’s and others but they are little different. They are all to well aware of Nationals business friendly “flexible” employment laws and subscribe to them freely.

    But we must remember that in the “Brighter Future” shareholders demand maximum return for minimum investment, so this and the blame for this appalling free child labour scam is theirs as well.

  13. These used to be the sort of paid jobs that kids, students and mums did around the school day to bring in some extra cash. Now that financial help is not available and they are being asked to work for free in return for NCEA points. You can eat NCEA points.

  14. An interesting item on the Red Shirts came at an Auckland Conversation – just before the introduction of Dave Turner – an Australian talking about the Swiss system of apprenticeship which is markedly different to any schemes currently running in NZ.

    He spoke about the business environment in Australia being different to Switzerland, where businesses are in it for a “common good”. And they would feel “shame” as a member of the business community if they were found to be exploiting young people. He said that Australia does not have that business culture, and he diplomatically said he did not know enough about NZ to comment on their ability to do something similar to Switzerland.

    It is worth the watch, for the introduction to a practical, working successful system. And in particular for the appalling, fawning introduction by Len Brown in praise of the Red Shirts programme.

  15. “There is of course a bigger picture being played out here. Stocking shelves now earns you NCEA credits and if you discover that stocking shelves is your passion you can now go to Massey University and get a degree in retail. Yes, you can start your retail career with a twenty thousand dollar debt but you will have a degree that is specifically tailored to retail. A Bachelor of Retail and Business Management. If you love your study (or a more likely scenario that even with a BRBM you don’t find yourself fast tracked to management) you can continue by getting a greater student loan and doing a postgrad degree. You can do an MA in retail.”

    Thanks for publishing this, Kate. I did not know about this going on, and it disappoints me further about the Warehouse, which is a retailer I hardly ever buy from, as I disliked their way of doing business from day one.

    Buying cheap “rubbish” (which much of it is) made by cheap labour overseas and selling it at a large margin, just a bit below other retailers selling similar stuff, is not that “ethical” in my eyes. Even Chinese migrants, who know a “bargain” when they see one, told me that many products the Warehouse sells, e.g. cheap clothing made in China, is so below quality and standard, they would not even sell much of such in China.

    So them now exploiting unpaid youth to get supposed “work experience” by doing simple manual work, which does not require much skill at all, that is disgusting.

    I would say that retail business requires some skills and learning, that is if you do the whole training about all aspects, particularly also the buying and selling aspects, the book keeping, the supervision, management and so, and not just stocking shelves and checking goods delivered.

    But having to “study” this, is also a bit rich, I feel. That may be appropriate for those wanting to become store managers and so, but the ordinary retail staff could be trained on the job, with some additional courses at a Polytech, which would suffice.

    We sadly have this happen in many industries, where young people are exploited to do endless, repeated “work experience”, to gather “practical” skills, but are not paid anything, or just a bare minimum retainer. Even those finishing Uni are often forced to do this, simply to stay “competitive”, as employers will “value” those who show they are good “servants” and “mercenaries”, above those who come with normal expectations and demands for fair pay and conditions.

    The working environment is getting worse for many, it seems that newer ideas come and get taken up. We have already much casual, temporary, contract and even zero contract hour work, offering people NO security, NO fair and reliable pay, NO decent conditions as they are left to overly depend on the “generosity” of managers giving them jobs and times that they can live off.

    On the other hand government does all to force people to accept almost any conditions, at minimum pay and conditions, as they keep people off benefits or throw them off benefits, so many are in between a rock and a hard place, and standards keep dropping.

    It is all designed to dis-empower people, and to keep them in dependence and without a voice. So far the powers there are seem to sadly be successful, as most affected are damned scared to rock the boat.

  16. The inaccuracies in the article are absurd. The Warehouse has 242 stores across the country? I think not. Many of the students which complete the Red Shirts programs are offered work (if that’s something they want). You are also forgetting the most important part, these children have a CHOICE, something which is not available to those unfortunate enough to be involved in actual slave labour. Retail is a lot more than just stacking shelves, and if you are too ignorant to be seeing that then you shouldn’t be writing articles on it.

    • So totally agree it is more to the fact they are learning aspects of retail not just stocking shelves. Maybe you should actually go to the source and find the truth not the hearsay

    • I am totally aware that there is more retail than sticking shelves. It is skilled work, and like all work should be remunerated accordingly.

      No one should work for free, including these students.

      In regard to consulting the source, I have. I am activly and passionately involved in improving wages and conditions for all retail workers.

    • I’m assuming the 242 would every single store in The Warehouse Group, which also includes Torpedo7’s, Warehouse Stationary, Noel Leemings etc.

      So you’re fine with the taxpayer subsidising The Warehouse by using students as free labour?

      And to Jo, they are just stocking shelves, I’ve talked to them and I’ve talked to the staff at the Warehouse.

      • Thanks Liam, I was not aware that these other companies were Warehouse Companies – Boycott here we come.

  17. They are exploiting the kids. This bullshit neo liberalism and this arsewipe John Key has to be stopped.

    That little wannabe American sycophant can fuck off back to the USA . He’s got to go.

    What an evil nasty little piece of shit he is.

    Total piece of shit.

  18. Um. As a student who has friends who has actually done the Red Shirts program, this article is based on a whole load of nothing. Students do some work, get work experience and between 16-26 NCEA credits out of 80, which is a hell of a lot. It’s a win-win situation, all work experience has to have actual work involved.

    • If it’s genuine work, then they should be paid a genuine wage. Otherwise they are doing volunteer work for Warehouse which takes low paid jobs from people who need them.

    • .

      TEEN, I think it’s shameful, that as a student you are happy to be part of this corruption and manipulation of the system “16-26 NCEA credits out of 80, which is a hell of a lot”. Where is your youthful idealism ffs ?

      • Be fair Mike, what you say IS true, but remember the kids of today don’t have the same history of trade unionism we do. Nor do they see neo liberalism as anything different from the “way things are”.

        The poor buggers have all been born into it.

        I’m afraid it’s our responsibility to point out how this is exploitation and how it is used to obtain unpaid labour and how there are alternatives and where to go to read and learn about it.

        Or (shudder, shudder!) they can embrace neo liberalism and become ratbags too…

    • But are those credits worth anything?

      Yes, in terms of passing NCEA

      No, in terms of it’s not teaching people valuable skills nor is it teaching critical thinking.

      They’re completely meaningless.

    • Except this is a system open to abuse and exploitation.

      This is not a requirement of a retail work experience, as the Swiss example shows. Children (from the age of 12) are linked to a business, who then pays them a reduced wage as a kind of apprenticeship to their industry while they are still at school.

      The apprenticeship programme and the commitment of the business community is geared towards the wider benefit to society, rather than the dubious awarding of NCEA points in return for free labour.

    • Dude, they’re working. And getting paid how much?

      That’s right. ZERO.

      NCEA credits will eventually give you a bit of paper which an employer may or may not take into account. On it’s own it may get you only a job which pays minimum wage. I hope you’re good at basic math, you’ll figure out that’s barely enough to live on. And in Auckland not even that.

      Even if you use NCEA to attend University and gain a degree, you’ll end up with a huge debt and something that may or may not get you a job. Which pays actual money.

      Stop and think. If employers can get away with labour which is not only cheap, but bloody well FREE, where do you think the bottom line for employment is set now?

  19. Most of these lazy, entitled, arrogant, no-hopers would have to pay me to attend my business, most are more trouble than they are worth.

    Have you ever tried to give ‘youth’ a job.

    Having said that there are a few who have a better attitude and if one of those is identified they should be rewarded.

    In my experience the ones with a bit going for them did get snapped up.

    To get a more honest and balanced picture may I suggest you employ some ‘youth’ yourself and see what, if anything, they’re worth.

    Do any of the commentators employ any ‘youth’, surely some of you have a business and could offer a trial to some ‘youth’ let us know how you get on.

    • “Most of these lazy, entitled, arrogant, no-hopers would have to pay me to attend my business,”

      So you yourself offer no place in your business for youth,
      but you put out a challenge to other people to employ any youth,
      figures people who spout forth defeatest attitudes
      can only demand not deliver

      I have personally hired youth who would have fallen through the large gaping holes and I have lived to be more pleased rather than displeased
      not wanting to dox myself I believe everyone deserves a few good chances no matter which side of the rail way tracks they come from.

      I find your attitude prevalent amongst the wannabe elite,
      People who just take take take and the dont give a flying fig for the givers, who are our youth in this instance.

      • Without wanting to go on… the Swiss scheme mentioned above has a motto in the business community – three strikes and you are in. A practical realisation that some students will enter the programme without the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in their first placement. They allow up to three placements of a student in different businesses before looking for alternatives.

        The businesses that offer school apprenticeships also meet regular and provide updates on students that have moved onto other employers.

  20. This should be sheeted home to where it belongs; Jim Bolger and oh no! Can it really be? Surely not! THE NATIONAL PARTY (yet a-bloody-gain).

    And as long as these turdheads keep spouting on about “Labour did it” and “We need to modernise” and “Invest in your property” the cro-magnon middle classes keep returning them election after election.

    They do not see

    a prison system that fails to meet UN criteria,

    an education system that has become an international laughing stock,

    a totally corrupt and self monitoring police force,

    a workforce regulated by laws established in the 1700s,

    a country blighted by poverty that would put Victorian Britain to shame,

    a government totally corrupted by the need to hold on to power no matter what,

    a housing situation that actually results in death,

    a health system resembling the orlop of a man o’ war of the 1700s,

    and now child slave labour.

    And all this so your house looks like an investment.

    Yuk! How humiliating for those twats that voted National…

  21. Its rather interesting how this can be taken so out of proportion.

    There are many “facts” here that are grossely inaccurate.

    Firstly, The Warehouse doesnt have 200+ stores infact its sitting at 92-96 stores Nationwide.

    Secondly, Many of these students are provided with jobs over the holidays when they do not attend school, currently I know of three students who have received jobs in one store because of this particular programme.

    Thirdly, these students are not exploited, they gain valuable knowledge on what it ACTUALLY takes to work in NZ retail, details are not fabricated they dealing with customers, learning proper work ethic and experience in a proudly New Zealand company everyday of the programme. Some of the students who are completing this programme are struggling to gain qualifications with New Zealands education system, this programme offers them valuable work experience as well as helping them gain their highschool qualifications giving them the opportunities they need in order to gain a job or go to university after highschool.

    Lastly for those who consider The Warehouse to be “exploiting” students, think about how much good this programme offers students who may not have finished highschool? How much does The Warehouse do for your community? How much does The Warehouse give to both local and national charities a year? How many of New Zealands population does The Warehouse employ and give jobs (at a living wage!) every year?! How many other retail companys provides and organises highschool, university and poat graduate as well as internal training and qualifications that are open to ALL employees!
    I urge you to think about these things before commenting.

    The Warehouse has always been a proudly New Zealand company truely doing the best, going above and beyond their of duty as an employer for not only their employees, but their families, their communities and the youth of our nation!

    • Isn’t it interesting that the one sensible comment on this thread had no likes or dislikes! The blog writer and most of the commentators have their facts way out of left base and one can only imagine where their information has come from. Certainly not from the The Warehouse! Get your facts right before you blog or comment! Well done Ashleigh!

      • So, what? Just swallow PR spin uncritically?

        What about the 90 day “probation”? Is that no longer sufficient to determine if you are suited to a career with the big red small-town cruncher? Now we have to have unpaid “work experience” as well?

        My cynicism of your company’s community value is based on the continual piece meal introduction of ludicrous legislation and third world working conditions that you know bloody well would not have even been within cooee in the days of strong trade unions.

        Please take your corporate spin to a website where it may be welcomed.

      • The Warehouse group has more than 200 retail sites, the Red Sheds make up 92.

        My information is gathered by personal observation & chatting to the people that are directly affected. The workers.

        In no way would I want this blog to be misinterpreted as a slur on the many people I know that work in The Warehouse. My goal is to highlight a practice that is becoming more widespread, and that replaces paid work with free labour. Work experience can be completed in a week a fair days work deserves a fair days pay.

        In regard to the comment that The Warehouse pays a living wage; that is simply not true. The Living Wage is currently around $19.20.
        The Warehouse pay a career retailer wage to the some staff that have completed the equivalent of 5000 hours work and met other requirements. This is not a majority of staff.

        Today the staff at Manukau went out on strike having voted nationwide to reject the current pay offer by the company.

      • So “Niki” and “Ashleigh”, what’s your role at The Warehouse?

        PR department?



        Come on, come clean. You’ve both invested a lot of emotional involvement in your posts. What’s the motivation for that emotional committment?

        What’s your “skin in the game”?

        By the way, Ashleigh;

        Lastly for those who consider The Warehouse to be “exploiting” students, think about how much good this programme offers students who may not have finished highschool?

        Well, “Ashleigh”, I think you and your colleagues at “The Warehouse” management might think about paying those kids.

        Voluntary work is usually regarded for charities – not companies that last year made $60.7 million in profit. (

        Returning millions to shareholders was consider more worthwhile than paying the kids who actually did the work?!

        You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves.

        Let’s see you both work for nothing.

    • Ashleigh,

      The Warehouse Group has a lot more stores then that and you know it.

      The Warehouse imports cheap products made by exploited labour and undermined our manufacturing base here in New Zealand resulting in loss of industry and loss of jobs. These products are often made out of plastic (a petrochemical, you know those things which are responsible for anthropogenic climate change) and break easily and are thrown into landfill which is not particularly great for the environment.

      The Career Retailer Wage is far below the living wage and falling further still. It requires 5 years or 5000 hours of service and once it is achieved staff are placed under enourmous pressure and stress to reach unrealistic targets.

      In response to your other well practiced PR lines:

      Fun Facts about the Warehouse: Where Everyone Gets A Bargain.
      Or How The Warehouse Learned to Use Child Labour to Keep Down Costs.

      -In the Warehouse, full time employees are being replaced by as many as three casual workers, whose total hours do not add up to a 40 hour week, so that the Warehouse can save the difference on wages. There is a huge demand from these workers for more hours.
      -The Warehouse bring in school children and get them to do work experience. This involves up to ten children stocking shelves for 6 hours a day once a week for ten weeks. They get a nice certificate saying they have customer service skills at the end of it so it’s sweet, despite the fact that they spend most of the time stocking shelves. Jobs which someone would have been paid to do not so long ago.
      -However this happens most week days with different groups of school children from different schools during each of the four terms.
      -These children do not get paid.

      -In a store I visited today there were 10 children on work experience x 6 hours a day x 3 days a week that there were children working in this store x 40 weeks x 14.75 (the minimum wage) = $106200 (the total amount of money that the Warehouse Group saved on wages in this one store alone in a year.

      The fact that the Warehouse Group donates to charity out of guilt does not make up for the fact that they treat their staff poorly and are not a good contributor to New Zealand’s economy.

    • Nowhere in this comment do I see the word PAID to do work for the multi million dollar profitable Warehouse. Since when does giving ones labour for FREE for some corporation ever acceptable?

      Is this the valuable lessons they learn, take someone’s age and roger them for all they are worth because of inexperience and the date they were born. They certainly do learn what it “ACTUALLY takes to work in NZ retail” all right, getting shit on from a great height by someone in a position of power. Dog eat dog world out there ain’t it!

      The Warehouse may be owned by some New Zealanders but it sure as shit sells mostly overseas made junk destined for landfills in no time short, from who knows what exploited source.

    • So obvious that this is PR spin from someone employed either directly or indirectly by The Warehouse.

      Poor effort. Too obvious.

    • oh dear Ashleigh do you really do believe the hipe you spout?

      When warehouse came to a near by town to me they called a big public meeting to explain their plans
      Town folk were very concerned especially the little kiwana shops owners who supported their families through their hard work
      not ever needing winz support.
      The warehouse operatives said never worry we will buy all goods made in NZ made by real NZers and
      the shoe factories and the clothing cottage industry will still thrive.

      Not for long it seemed shoes and clothes made in china and other parts of the world made much cheaper stuff so the nz shoe factory closed down and the cottage industry clothing craft shops closed down and we awaited the land fill rubbish sent from around the world.
      Now we have cardboard tasting perishable goods sitting on warehouse shelves for months made with perservatives that I cant pronounce

      warehouse sells cheap badly made rubbish
      …is listed on the stock exchange
      so they serve just one master
      the almighty dollar

      Any one who works for free for set hours and pays for their travel to the job is being expoilted,
      Only a soul gobbling money hungry corparation would have that kind of attitude towards their fellow NZers.

      Bit like how serco was top of the list with their not deserved ‘exceptional’ status, and had used all the tricks in their academia book to disguise the rort.

  22. What an amazingly poorly written and researched blog post.
    The author should go back and actually talk to the people that have been with Red Shirts in Schools, taken and taught the pupils.

      • “They don’t work on the tills” Definitely not true in all Warehouse stores, as is to say “. What the Red Shirts do is stock shelves.”

          • By doing what the author of the blog should have done, spoke to the school pupils who have been involved.
            And your research is?

              • Same sort of source as the blog author Frank but you are happy to take that at face value. Still no sign of your own research Frank.
                Why has “Kate” not bagged the builders, plumbers, panel beaters, farmers,other retail outlets and all those others who have similar schemes with pupils.

                • Al – if you have contrary facts to what Kate has written, feel free to present it.

                  But don’t expect me to do it for you. That implies you have nothing except opinion to base your claims on.

                  As for “Why has “Kate” not bagged the builders, plumbers, panel beaters, farmers,other retail outlets and all those others who have similar schemes with pupils” – sorry, but deflecting and finger pointing elsewhere away from this issue, doesn’t cut it.

                  You still haven’t disclosed your interest in this issue. What is your connection to “The Warehouse”? Why are you showing such deep interest in criticism of “The Warehouse”?

                  And what opportunity did you have to ” spoke to the school pupils who have been involved”? In what capacity were you involved?

                  Are you employed by “The Warehouse”?

        • So, how come there can be ten customers waiting at each of the two open checkouts when there are dozens of red shirted bodies trying to look busy around the store?

          “You’re busy”, customer says after a 20 minute wait to be served, ” how come they don’t open another checkout?”

          “Oh, everyone’s at lunch/tea/toilet”.

          Oh, and what is the no.1 rule of retail….?

          The customer is always right.

          (I do hope the boss is properly remunerating you guys for the rearguard defense.)

    • I can vouch for everything in this blog….my son was conned into being a “red shirt”…off he went, 6 hours a day, two days a week for weeks on end; was told no hope of a job/holiday job after doing this “work experience”. Then, when the stint at The Warehouse finished, the Gateway Programme at his school then sent him off on a similar stint to a high class inner city Auckland hotel’s restaurant kitchen, where he was expected to repeat the process all over again, working for free, paying for the privilege to get to the job, with nothing at the end of it.

  23. I cannot believe the inaccuracies in this blog, the college kids come from 9 till 3 only- in that time they do theory AND practical – practical includes using the I-pods on the floor, helpig customers, stacking the shelves- yes to a standard – you dont just shove things on shelves. Yes they work on the tills, they work in many departments learning the skills required fro each, they learn about whats expected in behavior in the store/workforce. Doing the job experience teaches ethics needed in retail. The students really enjoy the time at THE WAREHOUSE, and yes there are 92 (give or take a few) stores not 240+ if any dont enjoy it and decide not to go into retail but for others its a chance to have a go at something they may decide to take up. Theyre offered xmas hours or stocktake hours if they wont and are suitable. It is in no way slave labour – its our kids learning and gaining experience and credits.A great opportunity for our youth I think the writer of this blog should spend a day or 2 with the students and see what actualy goes on as clearly they have not – this is reflected in the inaccurate content of the blog. Id have had no hesitation in putting my children through a course like that.

    • Ah, another first-timer poster with “in house knowledge” of how The Warehouse operates.

      It seems Kate has hit a nerve, and The Warehouse management are here, en masse, to put the company spin/

      Here’s a thought, Jeff; why not actually pay those kids to do that work? You know, how they used to do it in the holidays or after school, pre-1984, when neo-liberalism killed industries; destroyed jobs; and forced workers to compete with each other.

      If the work those kids do is so good – why not pay them?

      Because what’s the bet, sunshine, that you don’t work for free, do you?

      Ironically, when I blogged about student debt, one of ACT’s acolytes was wanking on about students working part time to pay off their student debt or pay for course fees;

      It seems they can’t even do that now; high student debt and working for free. What the f**k is next?!

      You and your Warehouse management friends can bugger off, Jeff. The lot of you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves.

      • Ahh, another attempted put down by Frank “Ah, another first-timer poster with “in house knowledge” of how The Warehouse operates.
        Good at that Frank, lack any of your own facts though I notice.
        The only nerve “Kate has hit is in being wrong but trying to present what she says as fact.
        “You and your Warehouse management friends can bugger of”
        Oh boy, bet that made you feel tough and superior when in fact it makes you appear more as a plonker than anything.

    • No normal worker at the warehouse would write a story so confidently about how much they love the warehouse and how good it is to have these kids there ‘taking their jobs’.
      It won’t be long before they no longer need casual staff…

    • Jeff, you may try to paint this picture as pretty as you wish, but it is still exploitation of the worst kind, and if you are honest you know what I am saying is the truth.
      No one should be expected to work for a multi million dollar company and not be recompensed for doing so.
      You may be happy for your children to be treated in this way – some of us are not. We can remember when NZ companies trained youth for future employment and paid them accordingly.

  24. This might explain the puzzling shopping experience I had at The Warehouse Queensgate the other day…. In which scruffy young women wearing tired red polos were shouting orders at each other and disagreeing, right in the entrance. They didn’t seem to have any awareness of customer service or perception (being everything) in retail. They have the returns counter at the entrance and these staff were putting on a show.

    But back on point… I can guarantee this wonderful opportunity to provide free labour for The Warehouse, is in conjunction with WINZ.

    Thanks to WINZ portraying the jobless as lazy, drug addicted, loser, slutty mums… Employers no longer go to WINZ work brokers to find staff. Like they used to. The exception is a handful of greedy chains and a few government department related “jobs”.

    The last “job” a WINZ work broker tried to pressure me into, was with a Rimutaka Prison charity. I’d be required to cold call the public and ask for donations for the children of prisoners. For ZERO PAY. But I’d receive a certificate of service after they squeezed a few months of free labour out of me = getting the most uncomfortable side of their work (cold calling) done by others. So it was a win-win… for them.

    The WINZ broker cottoned onto the fact I have a strong social conscience and a level of empathy that is rarely seen in a WINZ office and tried to emotionally blackmail me – forcing me to Think of the Children.

    No. I needed to think of myself.

    I wonder if Farmers department store also do this?? … because their Queensgate store has never had so many female staff (also wearing awful uniforms).

    Fun fact: I applied for work at Farmers and was shocked that their electronic job application had two tricky background check clauses…..

    There was the usual clause, requiring a Police check (understandable in retail). But then they asked for permission for a “third party” to check WINZ and ACC records. They also wanted “The right to retain that information”. ??? … I have never seen that in a job application.

    I had the right to not tick those boxes, but at the end of the application they ask the question again in a legal way, and it appears if you agree (which you sort of have to) you’re giving them permission anyway to go through your WINZ or ACC records.

    Completely shady.

    • How disgusting, how Farmers and other employers now want to know every bit of a person’s history!

  25. I have a BSc in Zoology and Psychology and I work in retail. I enjoy it, but in retail everything you need to know, you can pretty much learn on the job – and get paid to do it (instead of paying huge university fees). I’ve actually done the NCEA course and all it really taught me was a bit of stuff on hire purchase and layby, neither of which we do in my particular business. But the main part of retail is customer interaction and that’s not something that you can be taught theoretically – it’s something you have to learn to do in the “field”.

    Stocking shelves is not exactly work experience! Customer interactions, merchandising displays, money handling – those are valid skills. Stocking shelves is just manual labour and all it really teaches you is stock rotation. Do they also send kids to mow lawns? Or wash cars? Seems that would be more beneficial for the community (they could help out elderly people, for example) and teach them altruism, rather than basically providing free labour for a company that probably takes in more money in a year than the kids’ll ever see in their lives.

  26. Frank, I notice you have not presented any facts yourself, is there a reason for that?
    My interest is in facts being presented, not someone interviewing ther comptuter (back in the day it would have been typewriter) to make a story.
    I have no direct connection to the WH, other than if you include an occassional shopper. What is your connection to this, anything?
    “And what opportunity did you have to ” spoke to the school pupils who have been involved”? In what capacity were you involved?
    Sorry, not sure what your inplying in this, I know young people who have completed the course, you on the have not even bothered to talk to those involved in any capacity
    “but deflecting and finger pointing elsewhere away from this issue, doesn’t cut it.” Your opinion which is obviously held in higher regard to yourself then others see it, but its your and you are allowed it.
    Last dig, no I am not employed by The Warehouse, are you?

    • You still seem very intent on putting “The Warehouse’s” side, Al…

      I doubt if “occassional shoppers” would be motivated to spends the time you and your friends have, on this blog. Especially since you’ve never posted here before.

      So yes, you and the other apologists are somehow connected with “The Warehouse”. I’d put money on it.

      • I have said what my motivation was, the information in the blog post was not accurate.
        “spends the time you and your friends have, on this blog.”
        What friends is are they you refer to?
        ” I’d put money on it.”
        You would lose your money.
        So, any facts to bring to the debate or just poor put down attempts?
        Can pupils gain NCEA credits?
        What all are they taught?

      • You would lose money, which reminds me of a saying.
        Can pupils gain NCEA credits from the experience?
        What all are they taught?

      • No apologist here.
        Brought some facts to the debate.
        The pupils do earn NCEA credits.
        They are taught more than “shelf stacking/stocking”
        They are not forced to be there

  27. All this lack of facts is getting tedious.
    Can pupils earn NCEA credits from the experience?
    What are they taught during the time at TWH?
    Money would be lost which reminds me of an old saying.

  28. This will give The Warehouse a chance to have market domination in smaller towns as well as the larger towns and cities in New Zealand. St Lukes have opened using the smaller format.

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