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Bitter blow for Gisborne workers as up to 100 jobs could go

23 January 2018

Bitter blow for Gisborne workers and community as up to 100 jobs could go

Up to 100 Gisborne jobs could go as JNL, the wood processing company, begins consulting on a proposal to nearly halve its workforce at its Gisborne mill.

“Although this is a proposal for consultation at this stage we all know that companies don’t make such proposals unless they’re serious about them,” said FIRST Union president Robert Reid, whose union represents many of the affected workers.

In a meeting this afternoon JNL proposed mothballing its LVL (plywood) production in Gisborne with a loss of 97 jobs from its 205-strong workforce.

“If implemented this is going to be devastating for the affected workers and the community.”

“Lots of families have multiple members who work at the mill. For others, although wages aren’t great, it’s the difference between being in poverty or not,” said Reid.

“Each year 3 million tonnes of raw logs leave the Gisborne wharf, the result of the last National Government’s neglectful, market-driven, hands-off approach.”

“The downsizing of the JNL mill would see even more raw logs and therefore jobs shipped overseas every year," said Reid.

The announcement is also a blow to the newly elected Government’s forestry, regional development and employment strategy.

“JNL is the only significant wood processor left in Gisborne and its downsizing is a market failure,” said Reid.

“The Government needs to intervene to address the market failure and promote a sustainable social and economic plan for the region’s forestry industry.”

“Before the election Labour promised to create more jobs in the region’s wood sector, announcing a $20 million proposal to establish a prefab mill in Gisborne. Fast tracking this and other job creation proposals must be a priority,” said Reid.

Both New Zealand First and the Greens had similar policies.

“Let’s also remember that 15 years ago the late Jim Anderton came up with a number of proposals to deal with the “wall of wood” that has now come on stream. Many have been singing Jim Anderson’s praises over the last few weeks and what better way to honour his legacy than dusting off the proposals he championed at the time and putting them into practice.”

The two unions involved, FIRST Union and E tū are meeting with their members today to begin the process of responding to the proposal.

Feedback on the consultation will close on 7 February with a final decision announced to staff on Monday 12 February.

“The unions are calling on Government to immediately establish a task force of its agencies with the industry, community and union leaders to implement a wood plan for Gisborne,” Reid said.

ENDS

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