Leaked documents reveal the full extent of ‘proposed’ job cuts at Synlait

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Sep 08, 2021 |

Documents leaked to Chris Lynch show the full extent of Synlait’s proposal to cut at least 150 jobs from the company.

The dairy giant said it needs to save $10 to $12 million.

Yesterday CEO John Penno angered staff in a media release saying he wanted to “remove any unhelpful hierarchy from the organisation to ensure staff have the information, resources, and freedom to act as they need to, to do their jobs every day.”

In the company’s consultation document, those most affected appear to be on the ground staff.

Synlait CEO John Penno

The company told workers “volume drop from The a2 Milk Company in December 2020 was significant and sudden. Inventory levels and demand outlook had to be reset.”

“Profitability and the FY21 Net Profit after Tax result is down approximately $100 million.”

The proposal includes disestablishing a macro Ingredients assistant operator, lab technicians, assistant technician, capital projects manager, cleaners, DE Hall operator, dryer development operator, and plant managers.

The company also wants to get rid of site operations manager roles within manufacturing divisions and change the pay of all maintenance technicians from salary to wages.

Current workers applying for new roles “where a competitive selection process is required” would be selected based on the “individual’s focus on skills; performance & behaviour in current and previous roles at Synlait; disciplinary history over the previous 24 months; and future potential.

In the company’s 2020 annual report it said “our internal response to COVID-19 was admirable. Management and employees re-organised early to ensure production would continue in a safe way. Our manufacturing teams were extremely resilient during New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown with increased demand for fresh milk, cream, cheese and infant formula due to changing consumer behaviours and pantry stocking.”

A Synlait worker affected by the job cuts said there are “many many unhappy people here.”

“Most of the jobs cut are everyday operators that have worked through Covid to keep to company afloat, not managers like the CEO has said in the press release.”

“Everyone is feeling shell-shocked right now, feeling like the company doesn’t care about staff when the CEO publicly stated they want to get rid of “unhelpful hierarchy”.

The worker said “many families here have both parents working here and are now jobless and John Penno has said they won’t be taking that into consideration going forward.”

“Staff who have worked with the company for over 10 years face losing their jobs to someone who has been here for 12 months as they’re on considerably less money than longer serving staff.”

“The Dairy workers union was blindsided by this and had less than 24 hours notice, so they’re gearing up for their response today.”

In the Synlait document sent to staff it said “the purpose of consultation is to receive and consider feedback from affected individuals on this proposal.”

“Feedback will be considered carefully by the company before a final decision is reached and communicated. We anticipate that we would be in a position to communicate a final decision on or around 24 September.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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