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Kinleith strike ignores facts and a strong offer

Strike at Kinleith ignores facts and a strong offer on the table

Carter Holt Harvey Kinleith Chief Executive Brice Landman said today that the latest strike by mill workers showed reluctance by the union to see the economic realities facing the business.

“By any standards the settlement on two alternative offers to the union is a fair one. The union’s attitude, however, seems motivated more by obstruction, and a denial of the company’s right to manage, than any constructive desire to help Kinleith and its people move forward.

“In comparison with New Zealand workers in similar occupations, many of Kinleith’s employees are already extremely well remunerated. The union requested the company to provide a salary model but rejected an offer that provides for an average salary of around $68,000.

“Reality needs to sink in. Over the past 18 months average settlements reached with this union at Carter Holt Harvey and other businesses, have been around 3% - not the 8.5% the union is seeking for the alternative of extending the existing wages contract.

“We know that workers at Kinleith want to move on, but it appears their union representatives do not. For example, the union has refused to agree to changes that would allow Kinleith to appoint employees based on competency, instead favouring appointments based on long service.

“Does the union understand the real world in which Kinleith has to compete if it is to survive? Over the past year international pulp and paper markets have become even tougher, as the kiwi dollar has risen substantially.

“We want to ensure we can continue to be a significant employer in the region but the union needs to face up to business realities. Strikes at Kinleith will do nothing to move the mill, the South Waikato region, or the country’s economy, forward.

“We’re seeking mediation with the union to resolve this quickly. Let’s negotiate a settlement which gives Kinleith a sustainable future, and puts the uncertainty and disruption of the past year behind us,” Brice Landman said.

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