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Wire workers face job loss

Wire workers face job loss

Manufacturing in difficult position - union

Workers at a wire plant in Auckland face redundancy because of a high New Zealand dollar, a weakening rural economy, competition from cheap foreign wire and the power crisis.

Fletcher Building-owned Pacific Steel today told workers at its wire mill in Manukau that it would cut production from seven days a week to five, effectively dropping one shift.

Ninety people work in the plant. The exact number to be laid off will be announced next week.

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says that the case highlights the difficult conditions facing New Zealand manufacturing.

“Businesses may be able to withstand one or two factors going awry, but not a whole range of factors against them,” he said. “We mightn’t be able to control the strength of the dollar, but we should have been able to prevent the power crisis.”

Yesterday, Pilkington Automotive announced that it would, as foreshadowed, close its Lower Hutt factory with the loss of 130 jobs. The company, which produces windscreens and other glass automotive components, blames the closure on the high New Zealand dollar and cheap imports.

“Lower Hutt is also facing the possibility of the Griffins biscuit factory closing and production moving to Australia,” Mr Little said.

“We cannot continue to allow our manufacturing base to be eroded. We must ensure that we do all we can to get the conditions right for manufacturing, such as having a reliable, affordable power supply and transport infrastructure.”

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