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‘You’ve got the weekend’ is not consultation

‘You’ve got the weekend’ is not consultation

It is absurd and unfair for an employer to tell their workers on a Friday that they have until Monday to come up with a way to keep their plant open, says Green Party Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford.

The Tanner Group told its workers at its Kaitaia Timber Company sawmill last Friday that it was at risk and that any viable alternatives to closure that the workers could come up with by Monday would be welcome. The company then made its decision over the weekend anyway and yesterday announced the mill’s closure.

“Even with the best will in the world, any group of workers would be hard pressed to save a multimillion-dollar business over the weekend and the employers came in on Monday with their minds made up anyway, ” said Ms Bradford, who lives in the Far North.

“So over and above the simple fact of the closure, local people have every right to feel bitter towards the way that the Tanner Group has gone about this.

“An employer who genuinely wanted to involve their workers in finding ways to keep their business open would be welcome, but instead we have a company that has obviously kept its workers in the dark for some time and has then attempted to make itself look good by offering a fig leaf of consultation.

“In my view the company has some questions to answer, because at the moment their explanations suggest they are covering up shortfalls in their own duty of care. The high dollar may well be affecting their export trade, but New Zealand is in the midst of a building boom and other mills are seeing increased business. There’s every sign that the dollar is likely to soon drop again, as the company’s bankers would have well known, so claims that that is a primary reason ring a little hollow.

“The closure of the Tanner Group sawmill in Kaitaia is a tragedy for Northland, which already has some of the highest unemployment in the country. I offer my support to those workers and families affected, I sincerely hope they will be able to find new work quickly in the district.

“Quite apart from those directly affected by this closure, the Greens believe this is also bad news for the region and the country. This closure means that even less of Northland’s ‘wall of wood’ is going to be processed locally by New Zealand-owned companies and will instead be exported without any value being added. Furthermore, a lot of it will be trucked out through the region’s over-crowded roads because we lack a railway.”

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