COVID-19 Staff Updates

Please check back here regularly for all the most recent communication from Adrian during this crisis

6th April 2020 - #1

Hi all,

Below is an update from CEO Ross Taylor regarding the pay arrangement, including a response to some of the feedback we’ve received. For Fletcher Steel, we have received 96% acceptance to the pay arrangement; I realise what a huge sacrifice everyone is making so sincerely appreciate the attitude and supportive comments from so many people across the business.

Managers – please ensure you keep in touch with your teams regularly over the lockdown, and check on access to these messages, the update website, and the Fletcher app (access details as follows)

To access the App, download ‘Appranet’ to your mobile phone:

Log in details:

Username Email: fbnzsupport@fbu.com
Password: Fletcher1

Noho ora mai,

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel



Hi everyone,

I hope that you and your families are all keeping well and safe.  I want to thank once again those people who are still out there providing essential services to the community.

As you know, over 9,000 people in our New Zealand team cannot currently work due to the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions.  Almost all of Fletcher Building’s operations in New Zealand are shut down, and this is obviously having a significant impact on our business.  

Our New Zealand Bridging Pay Programme has been designed to help support those people not working, and also to help the business while it has no income through these uncertain times. I want to thank all of you who were involved in the consultation last week. We had to move quickly to provide some certainty, so people could plan ahead over the coming 12 weeks. 

We had an overwhelming response to the consultation.  Around 93% have elected to take up the Bridging Pay Programme (the programme only applies to people not working).  That’s more than 8,600 team members who have agreed. Thank you.

Over the weekend, our Executive team have gone through your feedback again. It was genuine, with messages of support for the scheme and I’m pleased to say that everyone showed concern for their colleagues.

There were three main themes from the feedback:

  • Our people asked that we watch out for those that might find themselves facing genuine hardship through the lockdown and the eventual ramp-up of our businesses. To assist with this, Fletcher Building will provide additional funding to the Employee Welfare Fund so the Fund has greater capacity to support financial hardship, for those of our people in New Zealand who need it most.  We will send details to you this week, so you can understand the application criteria and how to apply.  My thanks to the EWF for their support of our people during this difficult time, it is sincerely appreciated.
  • We were also asked to reconsider the pay cut for our working Executive Team continuing through the lockdown and ramp up period, which includes myself and 11 other senior leaders.  Your feedback was that you thought we could have gone further than the 15% proposed. We have listened and we will be extending that to 30% through this 12-week period. This also applies to our Board of Directors. 
  • Some people thought the process was rushed. This is understandable, but the reality is that we had to move quickly. We need to make immediate decisions now to give our people certainty and to protect our business over the lockdown and the restart period that will follow. In the coming week, we will work with the small number of people who did not sign-up to the programme, on a way forward.

We will continue to review our approach as the situation evolves.

I know I speak on behalf of the Executive, and the Board, when I say thank you for your flexibility and support. We have a long history as a company that has overcome challenging times, and I am confident we will again.

Take care, and I will be in touch again soon.

Best regards,

Ross Taylor
Chief Executive Officer | Fletcher Building

3rd April 2020

Hi all,

Whilst not a typical Friday, I hope most of you are able to ‘wind down’ in some way with the weekend not far away. This afternoon the SLT caught up for a more casual chat – all via teleconference! – to farewell Russell Turner, our Head of Finance. Russell has kindly & voluntarily worked beyond his official last day to help us with the huge number of new tasks we have had to undertake given the lockdown’s impact on the business. Russell will be hugely missed by Fletcher Steel, with his clever wit and ability to focus through to the essence of a problem having been particularly appreciated over the difficult last couple of weeks. Thank you Russell, and all the very best for your next challenge!

We have largely concluded the pay arrangement rollout, with Fletcher Building submitting all acceptances to the government this afternoon to secure the subsidy that we will be passing to you on as per their guidelines, along with the Fletcher contribution. Again thank you for your overwhelming reaction to this arrangement. Our CEO Ross Taylor offers a little more around what this means to us in his note below.

We are continuing to supply essential services, with New Plymouth Easysteel providing product to fix an oil rig breakdown, and Fletcher Wire Products dispatching product to rural merchants who are supporting the essential farming sector. Thank you to all those venturing away from home to keep these critical services running.

Many of you have been able to access the Fletcher Building app – this is a good source of information, including advice around how to use your annual and long service leave to top up your pay over this period. Please note Fletcher Steel falls under the ‘building products’ area for some of the contact information provided.

I wish you all an enjoyable weekend

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel


Hi everyone,

As the first week of New Zealand’s lockdown comes to an end, and Australia continues to roll-out tighter restrictions, millions of us are managing the new reality of staying at home.  I’m very thankful for the technology we have available today that allows us all to connect and when we need it, be distracted. 

As we round off the week, I’d firstly like to thank everyone who has worked so hard over the past 10 days to prepare our business in New Zealand for the lockdown, whether that’s shutting down our sites or helping develop the Bridging Pay Programme which we announced this week.  I know a lot of people have been working long hours for many days straight, so I encourage those involved to take some much-needed time off this weekend to recharge.

We launched the Bridging Pay Programme in a necessarily short timeframe and I’d also like to add my thanks to the many thousands of you who have responded positively to the proposal. I’ve had an opportunity to read many of the comments from our people across New Zealand and it’s clear that most people understand the situation we are in.  Many people also took the time to voice their support for what we are trying to achieve, particularly around providing as much certainty as we can around pay over the coming 12 weeks.

As a business, our options become increasingly limited with almost no revenue for a yet undetermined period. It’s important for us to strike the right balance of supporting our people, while ensuring we have a strong business to resume operations once the lockdown finishes and the ramp-up process gets underway. So, I do want to recognise the flexibility everyone has demonstrated and acknowledge the way people are adapting to the new environment we find ourselves in.

Based on some of the themes in the feedback we have received, I wanted to clarify a few key points relating to the Bridging Pay Programme.

  • The first point is that people who are not working will receive no less than 80% of their pay (not including allowances) across the first four-week period starting 26 March. Pay is then graduated downwards over the 12-week period so people can plan ahead. People also have the option of using annual leave to top-up pay.
  • Secondly, the government wage subsidy is being passed on in full and will be included in everyone’s pay.  Importantly, no one will fall below the wage subsidy amounts during the 12-week period unless they already earn less than this amount. If someone’s normal pay is less than the wage subsidy amount, they will continue to receive their normal pay over the 12-week subsidy period. 
  • And thirdly, everyone still working over the lockdown, (apart from senior executives) working their normal hours will continue to receive 100% of their normal base pay. Senior executives working over the period will receive a 15% pay cut through the 12-week period and executives not working will be on the Bridging Pay Programme along with everyone else.

Based on the response we have received, we will be moving ahead with the proposal and implementing the Bridging Pay Programme over the next 12-week lockdown and ramp up period. We will revisit this if anything changes.

All those in lockdown or working from home will have received a lot of information this week and this is likely to continue. To address this, we launched a new COVID-19 Support Hub app in New Zealand, to make everything available to as many people in our business as possible.  The Hub also connects you to a broad range of support tools and services, as well as regularly updated information to help us all get through the weeks ahead. The Australian version of the app will be launched next week.

It’s also important to remind ourselves why we are doing this. We are uniting together by staying at home to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Most of us would only experience mild symptoms but the older people in our community and those with pre-existing conditions could have a more severe reaction and this could lead to critical health issues. If the virus went unchecked our hospitals and hospital staff would be overrun and those people who are most at risk wouldn’t get the health response they need. This we all now know, is flattening the curve. Individually, it can be challenging but collectively if we do the right thing, we are making a difference.

I want to thank you all again for everything you’re doing to support us through this challenging period. I will be in touch again soon but in the meantime, please continue to look after yourselves and your friends and families.

Best regards,

Ross Taylor
Chief Executive Officer | Fletcher Building

2nd April 2020 - #2

Hi all,

Firstly thanks again for your fast consideration and replies to the proposed pay arrangement. I realise this was very challenging to accept for everyone, but on the upside we have some certainty for lockdown, unlike many businesses in New Zealand.

Personally my two favourite media sources, Radio Sport and the NZ Listener magazine, have closed permanently this week. The economic impact on the country of COVID-19 is certainly hitting home and I am pleased we have been able to offer at least a level of confidence, across Fletcher Building.

Another benefit of being part of a large business like Fletcher Building is access to support services through this tough time. One is an app launched today to provide all workers (wired and non-wired) with a single site for key information – the COVID-19 Support Hub (HUB). This will be increasingly important source of consistent information and updates as we move through the next few weeks. There are helpful tips on maintaining emotional and physical wellbeing, and also a link to EAP services.

To access the App, download ‘Appranet’ to your mobile phone:

Apple - https://apps.apple.com/tt/app/appranet/id1316765069

Android - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.puttiapps.appranet

New Zealand Log in details are below.  

Username Email: fbnzsupport@fbu.com

Password: Fletcher1

Please let us know if you have any issues downloading the app, or accessing the services it offers.

Kind regards to you all

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

2nd April 2020 - #1

Hi all,

Thank you for your consideration and understanding of the pay arrangement communicated yesterday. We have already received have agreement responses from over 50% of our 800 staff which is great progress.

As noted, your response by 5pm today is important for Fletcher Building to secure the government subsidy that contributes significantly to the arrangement. Please let your SLT manager know if there are any outstanding questions you would like answered.

I’ll be in touch again tonight with a longer daily update.

Kind regards

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

1st April 2020

Hi team,

We have just been provided the details of pay arrangements across Fletcher Building for beyond this Friday 3rd April. Please read through the information from our CEO Ross Taylor below and the proposal letter. Your manager has been provided information to assist with some of the questions you may have, but please be aware this information is also new to your managers. The SLT will be available through the next two days for any additional questions or clarification required.

The main points are:

  • After you come off your special leave (which for most people is after Friday 3rd April) your pay will be reduced to 65% of your base rate, until Wednesday 22nd April.
  • If you are not back to working as normal by Thursday 23rd April, your pay will be reduced to 50% of your base rate until 20th May; then to 30% of your base rate until 17th June.
  • Your base rate is your base salary, or for waged employees your base hourly rate x contracted hours per week.

It is important we receive confirmation of this arrangement from every employee, ideally via email or text, by 5pm Thursday. This is critical so we can confirm the government subsidy portion of the financial support to enable this arrangement.

I know this will have a major impact on all of you, on top of the stresses already caused by the Covid-19 lockdown. But I have huge faith in the Fletcher Steel business and our wonderful people – know we are doing everything we can to prepare for getting people back and working, in what will be a different environment post-lockdown.

Kia kaha

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel



Hi everyone,

Last Friday I committed to providing you with more details around how we will be managing our business through the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In New Zealand, which is where 90% of our profits are generated, we are now having to make decisions on how to manage our business in an environment with largely no production, no sales and therefore no income, for a yet undetermined period.

In Australia, revenues have been impacted but at this stage, we are able to continue to trade. Across the South Pacific, some countries have introduced lock downs, while others continue to allow businesses to continue to trade.

As we make decisions on how we best deal with these realities, we are adopting several guiding principles:

  • Doing our best to support our people through this.
  • Providing as much clarity around pay and working arrangements into the future as we can so people who can no longer work are able to plan their own finances as best as possible; and
  • Managing the Company’s financial position to ensure that our business remains resilient and in a strong position to resume operations as and when the restrictions are lifted. 

As part of our actions to date, we have made several significant moves to preserve our cash levels, including cancelling our FY20 interim dividend and our on-market share buyback program, as well as substantially reducing costs and capital expenditure. Despite these actions, we are simply not able to continue to pay all our New Zealand people who are unable to work at 100% of their normal pay over the lockdown period and the inevitable restart period after this.  

IN NEW ZEALAND

At this stage, the Government has announced a 4-week lockdown from the 26th of March. It has also advised it will make progressive announcements around how long this will go on for.

To support affected businesses and employees through this, the Government has a put in place a 12-week wage subsidy programme. Pleasingly, we have been able to confirm we can access the wage subsidy programme as a contribution to the total support package we have created for our New Zealand people.

As the Government initiative is a 12-week programme, we have aligned our approach to this period. We felt this also provided a level of certainty for everyone so each of you could plan the next 12 weeks as best as possible. Below I provide a summary of our proposed approach to our people not working during the lockdown period and note that all the pay levels outlined include the Government subsidies.

For our people not working over the lockdown period

Weeks 1 to 4

  • From Thursday 26 March until the end of your special paid leave you will receive full pay.
  • After this you will receive 65% of your base pay up to the end of week four.
  • Over the full 4 weeks, this will average out at 80% of base pay.

Weeks 5 to 8 - You will receive 50% of your base pay.

Weeks 9 to 12 – You will receive 30% of your base pay.

If you have accrued or entitled annual leave, long service or other entitled leave available, you have the option of using this through the lockdown period to top up to 100% pay.  

For those people who are not working, we are proposing you move to the Bridging Pay Programme. Shortly you will receive a communication from your Divisional Chief Executive or P&P team.  This will provide more context on what we are proposing and outline the timeframes and decisions we need from you.  It will also provide the contact details you can use to respond to this proposal and who to talk to if you have any questions. We also recognise that everyone has unique circumstances and to that end, we have set up several places where you both find information, ask questions, and seek assistance.

We will review the Bridging Pay Programme should circumstances change.

If you are required to work during the lockdown (as essential services or support)

If you have been notified by your manager that you are required to work during part of or all of the lockdown period, you will receive your normal pay. If you are required to work part time and agree to do so, your pay will be pro-rated.

Senior executives

Our senior executives understand the important leadership role they play in supporting our people, our business and our critical drive to limit costs. To this end, as a senior leadership group, we have agreed to implement a temporary 15% pay cut through the 12-week period.  This group includes Directors, myself, the Executive Team, General Managers and most people reporting directly into a CE.

How long will this scenario last?

Currently the Government has indicated that the initial lockdown will be in effect for several weeks. The next stage could be either a reduction in the Alert Level, or it could be a continuation of the lockdown.

IN AUSTRALIA

In Australia, our businesses continue to trade, and all currently remain open. We are experiencing some drop off in volumes in areas, but we will deal with any issues locally rather than take any overall Australian position at this stage.  We will continue to monitor Government announcements closely and  advise you should either the market deteriorate rapidly, or the Government change its response.

IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC

Like everywhere else, our people in the South Pacific are dealing with enormous disruption and uncertainty. Our thoughts are with all our people across the region. As Fletcher Construction is the only operating business in the South Pacific, our teams and people in this region will get updates specific to them through Fletcher Construction directly.

This being an evolving situation, it means what we do will necessarily change as circumstances and the Government’s response changes. To ensure you stay fully informed on what we are planning, we will continue to communicate with you regularly. We are setting up a new resource, a COVID-19 Support Hub App, where we can all continue to connect and keep informed as part of the Fletcher Building team, despite the restrictions in play. You can expect to receive more details on how to access this from your CEs.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding and I hope you and all your family and friends stay safe as the world works its way through a very challenging period.

I will be in touch again soon.

Best regards,

Ross Taylor
Chief Executive Officer | Fletcher Building Limited

31st March 2020 - Fletcher Steel March Update

Hi all,

With all that is going on, it’s easy to forget that back in February we were operating pretty much as normal and making some good progress around our four pillars or focus areas!

It’s important we keep some routine going, so below is a brief update from around the business, ‘Pre-Covid-19’ style.

SAFETY

  • We are very close to launching the Protect plan for steel, which covers off the major activities and training requirements as we continue to improve our safety performance. Look out for a video from me, a clear timeline, and a poster that incorporates feedback from around the country which shows what safety really means to the teams at Fletcher Steel.
  • I was invited to speak at the Bluescope (our biggest supplier who owns NZ Steel) safety conference which this year was held at their Glenbrook site. In front of a range of their global staff, local customers and government stakeholders I talked about the devastating journey that Fletcher Steel had been through, and how we are working to come out of it with a better safety culture. The presentation fitted well amongst a range of more theory-based speakers and topics, and I hope what we have learnt in the hardest way, can benefit other businesses without the same tragic motivation.

 

PEOPLE

  • Our marketing & innovation manager, Scott Morrison, was awarded the ‘Leading Metalhead’ award at the HERA steel industry awards night. This fantastic accolade is only given once every 3 years, and recognises Scott’s strong contribution to sustainability leadership across the New Zealand metals industry, including the development of environmental standards for PCC and Dimond. Well done Scott!
  • I was honoured to attend a lunch to celebrate Irwin King’s 40 years of service at Easysteel Christchurch. Whilst there was a lot of experience around the table, Irwin’s service certainly stands out, and it was inspiring to hear how much Irwin valued learning new things, even in an area of mastery like our BPCS system! Congratulations Irwin on a marvellous achievement.
  • You may have seen some articles on Matrix about Fletcher Buildings relaunched values – we’ll be launching these officially around steel in a few months’ time, with the new value ‘Protect’ fitting in well with our work on both safety and environmental sustainability.


SERVICE

  • The results are in from our Innovation Challenge, and we are ecstatic with the number and quality of ideas from all over the business. Thank you for your enthusiasm and contribution! We are now working on clustering the ideas into themes and will be sharing our next steps soon; already we can see some ideas we can invest in immediately.
  • Work has begun in earnest on our new, purpose-built Wellington site, to house our Easysteel and Dimond businesses. The building design will make the operation both safer and more efficient, and help continue the excellent revenue growth we are achieving in the region.


BUSINESS RESULTS

  • February profit for steel was 89% of forecast. Fletcher Reinforcing continued a solid run of results, with some long-term windfarm projects kicking off to accompany roading and America’s Cup base work.
  • The roofing market continued to be slow through February, with some signs of improvement in the last week. The lower volumes have meant we have had to manage our shift patterns tightly. Meanwhile we are continuing to work on new products and improvements to introduce to the market and target share gain.
  • The manufacturing market continues to perform well for Easysteel, with new customers secured for flat roll product.

 

Noho ora mai

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

30th March 2020

Hi all,

I hope the last few days has treated everyone okay – whilst it was the weekend, it didn’t really feel like it with so many of our usual routines and choices unavailable to us.

Next weekend we’ll kick off a few competitions to spice things up around the Fletcher Steel family… ideas welcome!

Today around the business, there was more servicing of essential customers, a notable example being Wellington Dimond, who opened up to run roofing materials for the NZ Defence Force who are recommissioning a field hospital.

We also received confirmation that we will be communicated the next stage of pay arrangements this Wednesday. Again, thank you for your patience for this critical information; it is important the details are right and that the arrangement complies with all of the varied employment contracts and situations around Fletcher Building.

Also, thank you to those who are continuing to work from home, take on training, offer customer assistance and plan projects whilst on special leave. This will set us up well to hit the ground running when the lockdown ends!

Have a good one

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

27th March 2020

Hi all,

Tonight brings to an end a completely surreal week – I doubt any of us on Monday morning could have imagined what was in store for us over the last few days.

Looking back just those few days, all of our businesses were tracking well, including Easysteel being on target for an all-time record sales month. Unfortunately that record won’t be broken now, but I am hopeful that the momentum we carried into the lockdown won’t be entirely lost, and we can come out the other side ready to make the most of all of our opportunities.

Of the many things I’m proud of from this week, one is the new process we have created to safely supply steel to essential services still operating around New Zealand.

Over the coming weeks I’ll tell you a little more about the various ways we are helping customers around the country to either tackle Covid-19 or keep these critical services going strong. Today, we supplied structural steel to Smart Shelters, an Auckland customer who are urgently creating temporary structures to house drive-through Covid-19 testing shelters. We also supplied some special steels for emergency repairs at the Chelsea sugar mill on the North Shore. Big ups to the teams who made this happen at very short notice today!

We have also received a note from Fletcher Building CEO Ross Taylor, with a little more detail around why we need to wait until next week for more detail on pay arrangements beyond next week:


COVID-19 Update – 27 March

Hi everyone,

I wanted to update you all on our urgent response to COVID-19, the actions we’re putting in place in New Zealand and how we’re planning for what’s ahead of us. Like many people, I’m working from home and in isolation with my family. I’ve had a crash course in Microsoft Teams, (which is video conferencing) so I’m in constant contact with people from right across our business. 

Words like ‘unprecedented’ have already lost their steam and we find ourselves in a situation none of us have faced before. That said, we can be encouraged by how many nations are responding to the challenge and putting the health of at-risk people above all else. And while the adjustments we are making to our day-to-day lives are inconvenient, it’s worth it. Our actions today have the potential to save lives, and nothing is more important.   

I also want to talk up front about job security and pay as I know this is the single topic you want to hear from me about. We have now closed all but ‘essential’ operations in New Zealand and it’s possible Australia could introduce full or partial shutdowns soon. We now need to assess the magnitude of this, plan for multiple scenarios and have discussions with Government on both sides of the Tasman.

Our main focus at the moment is around planning ahead in phases. When the lockdown was first announced, as part of the first phase we wanted to provide immediate certainty for everyone and we therefore announced that special leave (normal weekly pay) would apply for all people not required to work until Friday 3 April. 

Beyond this, we are now entirely focused on providing you with additional certainty for the next phase, which we have defined as the next 12 week period.  This will allow you to plan for the longer term. So, for now, I ask for your patience.  Further ahead, it is difficult to anticipate exactly how things will evolve but we will continue to develop plans as the situation evolves.

The NZ Government has an essential role to play in this planning and they continue to talk about their commitment to supporting businesses and workers. We are actively engaging with them around what this means for Fletcher Building.  We have also been listening to feedback from our people and one of the common questions is around whether we have applied for the current wage subsidy offered by the NZ Government. I felt it was important that we address this question specifically. 

The message from the NZ Government to date is that the scheme is primarily designed for small to medium size enterprises which make up the majority of businesses in New Zealand. There are some conditions which make it difficult for us to apply for the subsidy in its current format. As an acknowledgement of the key role we play in the economy, the NZ Government does however want to engage with large businesses like us directly about our specific requirements.  The significant costs that an organisation of our size continues to incur, particularly wages and salaries, means that we require a tailored solution to manage our business through the lockdown.   We will be submitting an application for the wage subsidy at a Group level once we have finalised the details with the Government.

I want to reassure you that we are working on finalising these details as soon as we possibly can.  I’m hopeful we will have a view around next steps by the middle of next week and we will be aggressively working towards this timeframe.

That’s the state of play in this fast-moving scenario and I will keep you updated as we move though this unique and challenging period.  We are fortunate to be in a good position, have a fantastic team of people and have responded very quickly. I’m certain we can get through this. 

Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the incredible job done around supporting the shutdown of our sites and facilities across New Zealand at short notice.  Putting something of this scale into place has required a heroic effort from so many people and all your hard work is greatly appreciated.

You can expect to hear from me again next week as soon as we have our people plan in place. For now, look after yourselves and those around you, follow the rules, stay healthy and be kind along the way. It is particularly important that we look after our mental wellbeing during times like this. You can find some helpful guidance and sources of support in the latest Health Alert.

If you have any questions regarding our plans for managing COVID-19 please don’t hesitate to speak to your manager, and remember assistance is available through the EAP Helpline. You can also forward any questions to our dedicated email address - fbhealth@fbu.com

Kind regards

Ross Taylor
CEO Flether Building


Thank you again for your amazing work over the last few days, through an array of challenges whilst balancing your home commitments – I wish you all a good weekend!


Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

26th March 2020

Hi all,

I hope that your first full day on lockdown has gone okay. If like me you managed to get out for a quick walk, I imagine you also found your suburb eerily quiet - for Auckland it was certainly quite different!

Around Fletcher Steel, a few sites supplied cover stock this morning to several essential services, and we continued to plan for taking imported stock off the wharfs, where it would otherwise be blocking critical items for households through the lockdown.

CEO Ross Taylor ran a conference call with all of the General Managers, and confirmed the middle of next week as likely timing for the next announcement on the pay situation beyond Friday 3rd April. Fletcher Building, along with several other of NZ’s biggest employers, are working closely with the government to understand what base support we will be receiving. With virtually no sales across the business for the next four weeks at least, it is understandable that this support will be required to ensure the ongoing viability of any pay arrangements.

We have put together a wellbeing toolkit here that outlines some other support, plus has some ideas for making your time in lockdown a little more bearable! As well as the other useful information, the staff update web page also has a chat function so feel free to use this to ask any questions.

During this time it’s really important that we can communicate to every employee in the business. We are currently setting up a text messaging system so that we can send out updates and key messages to every employee. We‘re always conscious of respecting privacy – for those with work issued phones we will be using that number. For those employees who do not have a work issued phone we will be using the home number entered into WorkDay. Your manager may need to check these details with you.  I just want to ensure everyone that  access to this  data is controlled and that we are only using it for this purpose. Your number won’t be visible to others, nor will you be able to see other numbers. Let me know if you have any concerns on this. Given the seriousness of what we are all going through, the pace at which events are unfolding and the need to communicate  and provide updates quickly, it is important that we access tools like this to keep the communications going.

Kia kaha, stay strong through the lockdown

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

25th March 2020

Hi all,

Throughout the day we have finished closing all of our sites, and all of your thoughts should now have turned to ensuring you and your families are together and prepared for the weeks ahead.

For each and every one of us this has been a very stressful week in a multitude of ways – yet without exception there has been a calm and focused approach to working through all that has been asked of us. On behalf of the divisional team and the Fletcher Steel lead team, a huge thank you. I am immensely proud of how every team has responded to this challenge.

For those of you still working hard from home this week, special thanks for balancing this alongside your home commitments. Your contribution over the next few days is very important to set us up for the various scenarios and requests we may get through the lock down, and ensuring we are set to launch back into operation successfully when we get the green light.

With regards to planning for ‘essential service’ supply, we are working with several key providers in the health equipment and utility sectors. As expected as the reality of the lock down has set in, the list is relatively short and we will have a limited number of facilities with strong safety processes in place to service these customers in the best interests of New Zealand.

I realise there is a lot of uncertainty around what is happening with regards to pay after Friday 3rd April. As soon as any more information comes to hand, we will be in touch via email and directly. At this stage we are hopeful that the government will increase its support to business, which will underpin what any arrangements will look like.

Again thank you for your massive contributions this week, and all the very best as we head into the lock down.

I’ll be keeping up my daily emails and they will also appear at https://www.fletchersteel.co.nz/page/staff-updates/

Noho ora mai

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

24th March 2020 - #2

Hi team,

We have just received confirmation of working arrangements for the next week, as the nation moves into lock down. Thank you for your patience in receiving this information, which is also being shared verbally via the SLT to managers throughout the business – I realise this has weighed heavily on all of our minds.

I’ll summarise the key points, followed by Ross Taylor’s full announcement at the bottom of this email, which has more detail and will also be available on Matrix.

  • We are considered a ‘non-essential’ business and as such reiterate our full closure through the level 4 health alert.
  • Special leave, which is equal to your normal weekly pay, will be available to all staff until Friday 3rd April.
  • The government is working on a greater support package for all businesses, and we are waiting for this before we announce what support beyond that date will be. We hope to communicate that early next week.

This is a very good initial outcome for us, and we will be working to get more clarity around future support quickly. I’ll be keeping you informed of any updates daily.

In addition, a few more important points to note before you transition to work-at-home (this week only) and/or special leave:

  • No one should be coming back into work after Wednesday, unless requested from an SLT manager.
  • We do have a very limited number of government-approved ‘essential’ businesses and projects that we may be required to supply from time to time over the lockdown period. We have plans in place to service these. Any such activities must be approved by the SLT, and have appropriate safety measures (both operational and Covid-19 related) in place.
  • We have set up a website as another form of communication to non-wired staff, please check this regularly for updates: https://www.fletchersteel.co.nz/page/staff-updates/

Thanks again for your commitment through very changeable and unsettling circumstances – for me at least one of the strangest couple of days I have experienced.

Noho ora mai

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel




Email from Ross, Fletcher Building CEO, follows:

Yesterday the New Zealand Government confirmed that we are moving into Health Alert level four on Wednesday.  This means people will have to stay at home and self-isolate, schools will close and all businesses, except those deemed essential will shut. The Prime Minister has indicated that this period will last for at least four weeks.  As you can understand, this move will have far reaching implications but is absolutely necessary in order to limit the spread of the virus in the community. 

While what we do at Fletcher Building is hugely valuable in building our communities, we aren’t considered an essential service such as hospitals and supermarkets and are therefore being instructed to close our doors.  We need to plan for a range of possible outcomes ranging from a timely resolution, to an extended period where many of our businesses are unable to operate.

In practice, this means we now need to manage our business in an environment with no production, no sales and therefore no money coming in at least four weeks.

As these events are moving quickly, we have decided the best approach is to make decisions in stages, as this allows us to provide immediate certainty for everyone. We can then then understand how things are evolving once we get more information from the Government before taking the next steps.

Our approach for the coming week across our New Zealand businesses will be as follows:

  1. Once you stop work due to the shutdown, special leave will apply until Friday 3 of April.
  2. If you are currently working from home, this will finish at COB Friday 27 March. Special leave will then apply until Friday 3 April.
  3. Divisional leaders will advise any people who are specifically exempted from this and who are required to work beyond Friday. These exceptions will be by CE approval.
  4. Special leave is available regardless of whether you have previously taken special leave for medically instructed self-isolation. 

While the Government has indicated an intent to help businesses with their people costs through this period, the details as yet remain unclear. We will be waiting for more clarity from the Government to understand these schemes and once we do, we will advise everyone accordingly. Please be assured that there is a large amount of work going on across the business to navigate our way through this very challenging period and we will make any decisions with the well being of our people and the long-term resilience of our businesses as key priorities.

We will be providing regular updates as we work through next steps and as the situation evolves. As such, it is critical that your manager is able to contact you away from work so please ensure they have your mobile phone number.  We will also be making some enhancements to our website so our people who do not have access to the office network and intranet can stay in touch with news and announcements. 

If you have any queries regarding our plans for managing COVID-19 please do not hesitate to speak to your manager, and remember assistance is available through the EAP Helpline. You can also forward any questions to a dedicated email address - fbhealth@fbu.com.

In the meantime, please focus on looking after your own well being and caring for your loved ones, particularly the elderly and vulnerable as the New Zealanders pull together to eradicate COVID-19.

Kind regards,

Ross Taylor
Chief Executive Office | Fletcher Building


24th March 2020 - #1

Hi team,

Just a quick update on how things are going around the business today.

  • Most of our sites are completing customer orders and will be fully shut by this afternoon.
  • A few sites are completing critical supplies to essential services today and tomorrow morning. We are planning for how to supply essential services as needed whilst the nation is at alert level 4 lock down.
  • We will be releasing a communication about our close down to all customers this afternoon
  • In most cases work from home processes are going well. Customer services teams will be important to keep up comms with customers over the next few days, while the supply and commercial teams are updating forecasts.
  • We have had some email issues and there is major load on phone networks nationally, both are being worked through
  • We are expecting communication regarding work arrangements and by mid-afternoon. This is a very complex situation across Fletcher Building and teams have been working all night to ensure we have a clear picture of what this will look like, for all staff.

Thanks again for working safely and maturely through this situation! It is a real accolade to the combined strength and culture of our business.

Noho or mai

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

23rd March 2020 - #3

Hi all,

We now have a little more clarity on the immediate impact of the government’s announcement this afternoon, that we are immediately shifting into Health Alert level three and then into level four 48 hours later. Once the country is at level four, people will be instructed to stay at home and self-isolate, schools will close and a range of businesses will be impacted apart from those providing ‘essential services’, for a period currently indicated at around four weeks. 

This move will clearly have far reaching implications but is absolutely necessary in order to limit the spread of the virus in the community. 

This escalation is considerably faster than we had expected, and as such the actions for us below are quite different from what was communicated on Sunday. Please read through, and inform your manager of any questions so we can collate and respond across the business as best possible.

Site close downs on Tuesday 24th March

At this point, we understand that nearly all of our operations do not qualify as ‘essential services’. As such, we need to shut down our sites to ensure all staff can move to self-isolation from Wednesday.

  • Safely work through your shutdown plans and only complete customer orders as advised by your lead teams. For some sites, we are stopping deliveries immediately to enable a safe closedown period.
  • All new incoming customer enquiries must be informed that we cannot commit to any delivery dates. We will update customers if the situation changes.
  • This situation is evolving, and we will update you if things change over the next few days.

‘Essential servicing’ and import receipt planning for key sites

It is possible some sites (most likely Easysteel) will be requested by the government to provide product for essential services usage (eg healthcare manufacturing, food production facilities). Also, in PCC and Easysteel we are expecting import shipments that will need clearing from ports. We will need to plan for trained staff to safely perform these tasks as needed, in a largely closed environment.

  • Your SLT managers will be in touch if this is relevant for your operation
  • Please be aware that we may be called in to reactivate certain sites at short notice – again, remember this must be done safely and by trained staff.

Working from home

For roles that can operate from home, please move to this mode from Wednesday at the latest. Note that small number of you may be required to assist with shutdown and managing operations through Tuesday.

  • You are permitted to take any work equipment home with you to perform your role, until we are at least back to alert level 1 nationally.
  • To help people work from home, all broadband providers in NZ have now opened their services to an unlimited setting at no additional cost.
  • If you have trouble working from home due to technical issues, talk to your managers or email Abhinabh, our head of IT Abhinabh.Duffadar@fbu.com
  • Please note, if we are not trading and operating as normal, we will be advised by Fletcher Building as to how long working from home is considered feasible and effective.

Working arrangements & pay

I realise this is top of mind for most of us. Many roles cannot work from home, and as per the point above, working from home arrangements will have a limited time span if we are not
trading at usual levels.

  • Fletcher Building’s CEO, Ross Taylor, will be communicating what support we can offer staff through the coming period by tomorrow afternoon
  • The SLT and I will be in touch with you after that to clarify further and answer questions as best we can
  • Again, I realise the this situation is stressful, however we are fortunate to be a part of a large business, and operating in a sector that should be able to rebound well once we get through this very difficult period

Keep in touch

We know that being away from the working environment can bring challenges, particularly from a social isolation perspective. You will all have home commitments to balance along with the working challenges we are facing.

  • We are considering our options as to how to communicate with all staff over this time period
  • Please ensure your manager has a means of contacting you, even a Facebook contact or family member’s mobile number
  • For those who are on Microsoft Teams, set up daily catch ups with your work teams to stay in touch.

Again, thank you for your calmness and looking after each other as we navigate the challenges ahead.

Noho ora mai

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

23rd March 2020 - #2

Hi again team,

We are continuing to work through the implications of this afternoon’s government announcement of an elevation to alert levels 3 and 4, and what it means for each of our sites.

We do not yet have a confirmation whether any of our businesses are considered ‘essential’, although we do know we are first tier suppliers to several businesses that have already been called out as essential, such as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

I’ll be on a call with the Fletcher Building team from 4pm which should provide better clarity as to the classification of our businesses and what support we will have in place for staff. It is unlikely that I’ll be able to provide full communications to you before 5pm, so please finish off your working day calmly - but take some extra time to check you have all you need, as it is possible some of us won’t be returning to sites until the alert level is reduced.

We will be planning for proper site shutdowns and security as required, as well as considerations for areas where limited operation may still be required, for example ensuring we pick up and store stock arriving at ports.

Please communicate the above to all non-wired staff, and ensure your manager has your up to date contact details in case we need to reach you by other means.

Noho ora mai

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

23rd March 2020 - #1

Hi team,

The Prime Minister has just announced an elevation of alert levels.

Please continue to calmly complete your work days and WORK SAFELY.

I will be in calls with Fletcher Building and the SLT over the next couple of hours and will provide an update to you all, as to how this will impact Fletcher Steel, as soon as possible.

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

22nd March 2020

Hi all,

With the rapidly evolving responses to Covid-19 in New Zealand, I’ll be starting a daily email to you all regarding Fletcher Steel’s policies and recommendations to meet both government and business requirements. The wellbeing of our team, both now and into the future, will be at the heart of all of our actions.

We expect all staff to take care of their own health and safety, and the health and safety of others, while at work. This means following and cooperating with any reasonable health and safety instructions, policies and procedures immediately as they’re communicated.

Over the weekend the NZ Government announced a new four level alert system for the COVID-19 virus. New Zealand is currently at level two which is where the disease is contained but the risks are growing. Level two is when we are directed to reduce our contact with one another. This is also the level where people are asked to work differently if they can, and cancel any unnecessary travel.

We have been preparing for measures such as these as part of our business continuity planning and over the last two weeks; as a result of the announcement, we are putting the following actions into place:

Where possible, working from home

The recommendation from the NZ Government is to work from home if you can and for businesses to start implementing alternative ways of working. For many of our office based roles, this is a good option. Across Fletcher Steel each site will divide the roles that can work from home in two teams, ‘green’ and ‘purple’, ideally with a blend of role types and skills in each. On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, team green will trial working from home with purple on site but practising social distancing as much as possible. On Thursday and Friday, the teams will swap with team purple trialling work from home.

  • You are permitted to take any work equipment home with you to perform your role, until we are at least back to alert level 1 nationally.
  • To help people work from home, all broadband providers in NZ have now opened their services to an unlimited setting at no additional cost.
  • While it is likely that we will end up with everyone working from home where possible, this trial enables teams to put plans in place over the next few days and identifying issues.
  • If you have trouble working from home due to technical issues, talk to your managers or email Abhinabh, our head of IT Abhinabh.Duffadar@fbu.com

Take social distancing seriously

  • Where practical, limit close contact with colleagues and between shifts.
  • Reduce meetings and hold toolboxes in larger/open air areas
  • When selecting green & purple teams, try to ensure spacing for the team that is in the office
  • Stagger lunch breaks or eat at desks/apart
  • Ensure contractors on site, including drivers, understand and follow our policies
  • Nearly all external training will be postponed to assist the above
  • Continue to follow good hygiene practices at work and at home

High risk people advised to stay at home

In the current environment, it is important that we are caring for our vulnerable workers who may be particularly susceptible to infection. While some older people may have underlying health issues, we do understand that many of our people in this category are fit and healthy and will want to continue working. Therefore we will be having one-on-one conversations about work arrangements, but if you are in these groups we encourage you to make your health a priority:

  • Please talk with your manager if you are aged over 70, or have an underlying medical condition that may make you more susceptible to Covid-19 (managers, where relevant your SLT manager can talk through the guidelines with you)
  • Work from home if possible
  • Otherwise, we will work with you around suitable solutions
  • For all staff: if you are unwell, stay at home and contact your GP or Healthline – then update your manager

Only essential domestic travel

To ensure we are supporting the Government’s request to restrict travel around New Zealand we are enhancing our travel restrictions as set out below:

  • The current international and domestic air travel ban remains in place.
  • We are implementing restrictions on road travel. Going forward only essential road travel should take place. We will be working with our freight providers to ensure linehaul operation risks are well mitigated.
  • Inevitably we will have exceptions where travel to sites outside of your immediate region will be required, so please seek approval from your SLT manager before travelling.

Keep up our operational safety behaviours

With a lot of attention on Covid-19, and reduced staffing levels at some sites, it is critical we maintain excellent safety behaviours in our day-to-day roles.

  • Alert your manager to any tasks where we are compromised by a lack of well trained staff and/or insufficient team numbers to carry out the task safely
  • DO NOT attempt to ‘just get things done’ if the above situation applies. Safety must come first

Over the next two days, the SLT will be in touch with all teams and sites regarding the above, as well as planning further contingencies to maintain our operations as effectively as possible, should regions or facilities be locked down.

Please let us know if you have any ideas or concerns; together we will get through this unsettling time.

Noho ora mai

Adrian Blake
General Manager | Fletcher Steel

 

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