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Closure of Fisher and Paykel plant regretted

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade


17 April 2008
Media statement

Closure of Fisher and Paykel plant regretted

Minister of Trade Phil Goff has expressed his sympathy for workers at Fisher and Paykel’s Dunedin Plant who have lost their jobs.

“It is important that Government agencies work closely with Fisher and Paykel and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union to give maximum support to those affected,” Mr Goff said.

“I would hope that with record low unemployment and a tight labour market Fisher and Paykel employees can be assisted to find new jobs as quickly as possible.

“I appreciate there are commercial imperatives that have influenced the company’s decision. As Fisher and Paykel Appliances chief executive John Bongard has noted, all of its competitors globally are currently manufacturing in low cost labour countries.

“By locating in Mexico the company also gains the benefit of duty free access into the North American market.

“I do not believe, however, that free trade agreements by New Zealand, such as that with China, are a key factor in the decision to relocate.

“Indeed, in discussions with the company in March last year, Fisher and Paykel management told us that the FTA with China ‘was not going to make any difference to Fisher and Paykel’s production and sourcing plans’.

“The free trade deal maintains trade remedies such as anti-dumping and includes a Rules of Origin approach based on a change of tariff classification as requested by Fisher and Paykel.

“The fact is that labour cost advantages in developing countries such as Mexico and Thailand will exist whether New Zealand seeks free trade agreements or not.

“And there is no future in New Zealand competing with the world by lowering wages and cutting workers’ conditions, just as there is no future in New Zealand in a globalised world putting up high tariff barriers at huge cost to the consumer.

“I welcome the fact that Fisher and Paykel are committed to continuing the high value add aspect of engineering and design work in New Zealand,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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