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Lane Walker Rudkin Redundancies A Tragedy

Media Release: National Distribution Union
Friday 15 May 2009

Lane Walker Rudkin Redundancies A Tragedy

Government and bank must do more says union

“The 186 redundancies announced by the receivers of textile and apparel maker Lane Walker Rudkin (LWR) Ltd over the last 24 hours is an absolute tragedy for the workers concerned and a new low point of business irresponsibility in New Zealand,” says Laila Harré, Secretary of the National Distribution Union (NDU).

Closures and consequent redundancies were announced at LWR’s clothing factories in Pahiatua (19 jobs) yesterday and Greytown (61 jobs) and Christchurch (102 jobs) this morning. Four Auckland sales workers are also affected.

“Workers have been thrown out of work with no notice, and no money,” says Laila Harré.

“We understand that wages for the week just worked may be put in workers’bank accounts on Tuesday next week, but there is no guarantee they will see any of the holiday or redundancy pay that is capped by the Receivership laws at $16,420.

“This is a dreadful situation and the workers and their union are very angry. How the bank allowed LWR to continue to trade and build up so much debt for so long is beyond belief. Yet today, that same bank, Westpac, washes its hands of its responsibility to the workers and refuses to even meet with the NDU and Council of Trade Unions to discuss the situation.

“The Government must also respond more effectively. John Key has said he wants to save iconic firms, and reminisced about his first job at LWR. But he has completely dropped the ball on requests made to him from by the Mayoral emergency meeting on the LWR receivership last week. Since the crisis at LWR emerged last week we have made repeated requests for Government support so redundant workers can run their own support service. Yet despite Government promises to ‘take the hard edge of the recession’ and to support communities trying to do things for themselves it’s looking like the workers will have to run cake stalls to set up their own support service.”

“We need both the Government and Westpac to come up with a mechanism that will guarantee the holiday and redundancy pay owed to the workers. And the Government also needs to come to the party to fund a worker-led redundancy support service,” says Laila Harré.

“There is an irony that the Pacific Brands owned factory on the same premises, which is closing in a couple of months, is paying full redundancy entitlements to its workers, is funding a worker coordinated resource centre and up to $3,000 retraining per person made redundant. This factory like LWR, came out of the old LWR / Canterbury company.

“If such a support package cannot be provided by LWR in Receivership then Westpac and the Government must come to the party to provide the same support,”Laila Harré says.


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