Huge blow to Rotorua sawmill workers
Media release: FIRST Union
Saturday 19 October, 2013
Huge blow to Rotorua sawmill workers as firm goes into receivership
News that a major Rotorua employer has been placed into receivership will be a huge blow to the workforce, the wood sector union said today.
Tachikawa Forest Products has been placed into receivership, which is being handled by Kordamentha.
This closure will have a huge impact on Maori, said Rawiri Daniels, Wood Sector Secretary, FIRST Union.
“We represent two thirds of the 120 workers, almost all of whom are Maori and who, in turn, are supporting hundreds more whanau members with these jobs,” he said.
“Our union had been advising local iwi leaders of the situation facing Tachikawa and we will continue working with iwi to see if jobs can be saved.”
“We are disappointed that the business wasn’t able to put together a recovery plan in place before the situation got this bad. It is the company’s loyal and committed workforce and the wider Rotorua community who will bear the brunt if the mill closes,” Rawiri Daniels said.
FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said the union had been aware of the financial problems of the company for some months and had been offering suggestions to the company.
“This receivership comes on top of a continuing contraction of wood processing firms and jobs in New Zealand,” he said.
“The high New Zealand dollar, the high price of logs and the lacking government procurement strategy around both the Canterbury rebuild and government house building programmes see the continuation of raw logs being exported across our wharves while workers lose their jobs in the sector.”
“While workers in wood processing in New Zealand lose their jobs we hear reports of Canadian and Chilean lumber being used in the rebuild of Canterbury.”
“Tachikawa representatives joined a union delegation almost three years ago to raise the issues facing the wood processing industry with government. These concerns fell on deaf ears.”
“Although running a series of losses, FIRST Union understands that Tachikawa had secured future orders that would turn it back into profit. However we understand that the company simply ran out of working capital and was not even able to purchase enough logs to fill the orders which it had.”
“The union’s number one priority is to do what it can to keep the mill going and to keep people in work. We will be talking to the new Mayor of Rotorua and local MPs about the situation.”
“If there are job losses then the union will also be seeking support from government and the local authority to put in place a support programme for those people made redundant, such as the successful programme run by the union in 2009 when Christchurch textile firm Lane Walker Rudkin went into receivership,” Robert Reid said.