The closure of Whakatane Mill confirms that New Zealand needs to change its policy setting around Governmental procurement of locally processed wood products and secure the wood supply to our processors if we are to avoid further closures and devastating waves of redundancy, FIRST Union said today.
Yesterday evening, staff were informed that the Whakatane Mill will be closing by July and ceasing its operations, affecting around 210 staff; over a hundred of whom are members of FIRST Union.
"A Just Transition has to be real and more than just rhetoric," said Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing.
"If we want well-paid jobs in the regions, we need to invest in local manufacturing and do everything we can to avoid closures like this."
"In the case of Whakatane Mill, we still believe that there are opportunities to make the most of the existing plant for the production of pulp products, but it would require Government support."
"There may also be workers required for remedial work on the land, as there was at Tiwai Point."
"The Government should look at these closures as a crisis and take appropriate remedial measures to ensure that New Zealand doesn’t continue to lose its manufacturing capacity and vital infrastructure - it is avoidable.
FIRST Union will be providing support to our members up to and following the closure of the plant, including working with the Ministry of Social Development and the Regional Skills Leadership Group to find appropriate jobs for workers to transition into.