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Staff, customers unhappy with 'rotten cold' conditions in Countdown supermarket

Author
Otago Daily Times,
Publish Date
Sat, 18 Jun 2022, 4:44pm
Countdown Andersons Bay has been called out for being an extremely chilly environment for staff and customers. (Photo / Gregor Richardson)
Countdown Andersons Bay has been called out for being an extremely chilly environment for staff and customers. (Photo / Gregor Richardson)

Staff, customers unhappy with 'rotten cold' conditions in Countdown supermarket

Author
Otago Daily Times,
Publish Date
Sat, 18 Jun 2022, 4:44pm

A Countdown store in Dunedin has been described as a "rotten cold" disgrace with staff forced to wear jackets and beanies to keep warm in frigid conditions. 

A Countdown spokeswoman acknowledged the current heating system at its Andersons Bay store was old and not working as well as it could but said a replacement heating solution was due to land in New Zealand shortly. 

A staff member who wished to remain anonymous told the Otago Daily Times you could see your breath at times in the store and often it was colder inside then outside. 

Only black jackets were permitted to be worn by staff and they were not paid for by the supermarket. Even when the heater, which was powered by diesel, was working it was insufficient to heat the store, the staff member said. 

Another anonymous source said the building was "like a fridge" in winter and the problem had been ongoing for more than four years. 

Concerns had been raised, but nothing had been done, the source said. 

It was well known the supermarket was an old building and the heating system was shot, but there had been no attempt to install temporary heaters while a more permanent heating solution was found, the source said. 

The store had a high turnover of staff, many of whom were school-aged, in part due to the "rotten cold" conditions. 

"Who wants to go freeze their arse off for minimum wage?" the source asked. 

The source put the issues down to "a real lazy old school Kiwi attitude" among senior management at the store. 

It was "disgraceful" staff had to put up with such conditions, especially since Covid-19 pandemic had been very stressful for supermarket workers, the source said. 

The store was very cold when an Otago Daily Times reporter visited it one night this week and packing staff were wearing jackets and beanies while they worked. 

Countdown director, corporate affairs, sustainability, health and safety, quality and food safety Kiri Hannifin said the store had a heater that was on 24/7. 

It was not turned off but was getting old, and could be a little intermittent.