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Steel workers want urgent action on power crisis

Steel workers want urgent action on power crisis

Workers at the three Pacific Steel mills in Auckland have agreed to postpone talks for a new collective agreement in a bid to help the company ride out the electricity crisis.

Production at the Fletcher Building-owned mills is at a standstill as the company tries to deal with a fluctuating electricity market that has seen prices increase by 500 per cent this year.

Three hundred and fifty workers met today to discuss the situation with union leaders and mill managers.

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little said that there was a feeling among the workers of deep concern for the future of the mill, and a call for the Government to step in to ensure price stability.

“This is a crisis that cannot be ignored,” he said.

“The future of heavy industry in New Zealand depends on a stable electricity market.”

The mill employs 350 people directly, and has an employment multiplier of four. It is New Zealand's only manufacturer of reinforcing bar and wire rod, producing 200,000 tonnes a year and supplying 80 to 100 per cent of the domestic market. An estimated 2600 tonnes of steel production has already been lost, and a total of 8000 tonnes is expected to be lost by the end of the month."

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