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How will Feltex bids affect workers, communities?

5 September 2006

How will rival Feltex bids affect workers, communities?

In the wake of yesterday's informal meeting of angry Feltex shareholders, Green Party Economic Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford has now called on the rival bidders for Feltex to reveal how their plans to return the firm to prosperity will impact on Feltex workers and the communities in which they live.

"I recently raised questions about the raw deal that Feltex shareholders have had in the past, given the dubious quality of the information that guided their investment decisions. It is now time for complete transparency about the social impact as well, of these two takeover bids," Ms Bradford says.

"All too often, the fate of major New Zealand firms is left to the business pages, and is discussed only in terms of what it might mean for shareholders and foreign investors. That focus is far too narrow. There is a social context that is routinely neglected.

"The Feltex workforce has helped to create the wealth that is now under contention. The livelihood of those workers and the wellbeing of the towns where they live are at risk, as the competing bidders try to woo the shareholders.

"I am calling on the two bidders involved - Godfrey Hirst NZ and the Turner brothers - to each put a social impact report on the table. This would indicate what their recovery plans are likely to mean downstream for Feltex workers and also - where possible - for the towns in which Feltex factories and offices are based.

"Going by the April 2004 figures supplied to the Stock Exchange, some 917 people work for Feltex, at locations in Auckland, Kakariki, Dannevirke, Lower Hutt, Feilding, Foxton and Christchurch.

"If either bid will eventually result in factory closures or job shedding, the people affected should be told right now, well before the meeting later this month or in October, when Feltex shareholders will make their decision known about the Hirst NZ offer.

"Many Feltex investors would probably like to ensure they are not only fully informed about the reliability of the economic data before them, but are also well briefed about the likely social consequences of any subsequent management decisions.

"I also call on Hirst NZ and the Turner brothers to start talking to the mayors of Horowhenua, Tararua, Manawatu, Hutt City, Christchurch and other Feltex locations as to what the recovery plans could mean for those communities," Ms Bradford says.


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