Friday 7 March 2008
Two more "Feltex" plants to close
"Workers, families and the two small communities of Foxton and Feilding will be devastated by today's announcement that their former-Feltex plants, now owned by Godfrey Hirst, are being closed," said Robert Reid, President of the National Distribution Union.
The NDU represents the mill workers affected by the closures.
The announcement was made to workers by Godfrey Hirst management at 4.00 pm today. Around 160 workers will be affected by the two closures.
"Although other jobs will be created at the Dannevirke, Wiri and Lower Hutt plants, it will be the two communities where the closures are to occur that will bear the brunt of this restructuring.
"There are at least 15 cases where multiple family members will lose their jobs. Many others are the main breadwinner for young families and those who are a few years away from retirement will face a struggle to get new jobs in the local area.
"Ever since the sorry saga of the collapse of Feltex over a year ago and its purchase by its main rival Godfrey Hirst these jobs have been under threat. Workers have recently taken a cut in their take-home pay as a result of shift changes at their plants and have also contributed to other gains in efficiencies," said Robert Reid.
"On the same day that Feltex shareholders announced they are taking action against Feltex former directors for $254 million, another 160 people have fallen victim to this debacle."
"It is the workers, the productive staff of the company, that lose their jobs while those directors, merchant and trading banks who were responsible for the collapse of Feltex get away scot-free with the wealth generated by the workers over many years.
Union officials have attended all meetings at the former Feltex plants today and will be meeting with the company next Tuesday to discuss the restructuring plans.
The union has a very modest redundancy agreement with Godfrey Hirst and as well as enforcing this will seek to negotiate relocation and other payments for the workers who will lose their jobs through the closures. The union will also be working with Government agencies such as WINZ and the Department of Labour to ensure that all possible income support, training and other assistance is offered to the affected workers.