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Tokoroa layoffs will cost in the long run

August 22, 2005

Media Release

Tokoroa layoffs will cost in the long run

Carter Holt Harvey’s short-sighted decision to lay off 40 workers at its Tokoroa plywood mill will cost it money in the long run, says the workers’ union.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union assistant national secretary Rosalie Webster said workers were bitterly disappointed that the company had chosen to take the “easy” option of shedding staff to reduce costs when they had come up with a much more viable alternative.

“They have spent weeks working on coming up with some forward-looking ideas to boost productivity at the plant, and now they feel as if they’ve had it thrown back in their faces,” she said.

Last month the company announced that it intended laying off 55 workers and changing the shifts of other workers in a bid to reduce costs.

Ms Webster said that the union and its members had worked hard to find viable alternatives to lay-offs that actually contributed to the long-term future of the company, and had brought in an industry expert to work with the union team.

“This sector cannot compete internationally on a low-cost basis,” she said.

“We have to compete by producing high-quality products in an efficient way, and that means boosting productivity. This was a real opportunity for this company to work with the union and workforce on turning this company around.”

Ms Webster said that the measures identified by the union and its members included:

1. Measures to reduce waste, which would have given a higher return than will be achieved by job cuts.

2. Looking at ways to structure hours of work to retain the capacity to respond to changes in the international market.

Ms Webster said that while the company had accepted some of the workers’ recommendations, and was laying off fewer people than initially proposed, the key strategy had been missed.

“In laying off these people CHH is getting rid of the capacity to introduce the quality systems that are sorely needed.” she said.

“It will need to replace these people in the future, which will cost money. Last year it laid off around 40 people then had to hire even more when the market changed.”


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