May 6, 2008
Mill closure highlights importance of redundancy
After three weeks of consultation with Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union members and officials as well as non-union workers, Carter Holt Harvey has decided to close its Kopu mill.
The shut-down has been on the cards since CHH announced it was considering the closure due to industry excess capacity last month and it is likely the first of the redundancies will come into effect by the end of this week and continue until the plant shuts at the end of June.
EPMU national timber organiser Alan Clarence says EPMU members are coping with the closure and are heading into a strong job market.
“Our members have had three weeks to get used to the idea of this happening and have worked to produce proposals for the company to consider but at the end of the day they are all likely to head into other work and have a good union-negotiated redundancy agreement to fall back on so it’s the best of a bad situation.
“The guys will receive the information about their redundancy entitlements tomorrow morning and will be getting support with things like CV writing and whatever it takes to help them into new work.
“As we understand it the plan is to mothball the plant rather than break it down and ship it out so there may be a chance it starts up again when the timber market picks up.”
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says the situation highlights the importance of a decent redundancy agreement.
“The reason these workers are able to take this closure in their stride is that they’ve negotiated a good redundancy package through their union but redundancy is something many New Zealand workers don’t have in their agreement and that often means they are in serious trouble if they lose their jobs.
“Given the closures we’re seeing around the country we think it’s time the government legislated for a minimum redundancy so all New Zealanders can have some protection between jobs.”
The EPMU represents 50,000 New Zealand workers across 11 industries including more than 4000 timber workers.