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Firm, unions join forces to help Feltex workers

20 November 2006

Firm, unions join forces to help Feltex workers

Green Party Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford today warmly welcomed the creation of KIWIskills, a joint initiative between the Sleepyhead company and two major trade unions, which aims to help those workers displaced by the Feltex collapse to find new jobs, and to upgrade their skills.

"When firms hit hard times, it is extremely rare to see business working together with unions to help workers who have lost their jobs as a result of corporate manoeuvrings. Usually, the best that displaced workers can hope for is a redundancy cheque and a handshake.

"That's why I applaud the KIWIskills joint endeavour between the Sleepyhead company, the National Distribution Union and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union. The parties have all agreed to come together to help the displaced Feltex workers find new jobs and to get the further skills they may need.

"The programme is a small but very positive step- one that I hope will encourage other firms to see themselves not merely in narrow economic terms, but as part of the wider community, with some sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of the people who work for them, and who help to generate the wealth.

"The wellbeing of manufacturing should hold a far more prominent place on the Government's agenda, It provides 14 per cent of our jobs, 16 per cent of GDP, and 19 per cent of exports - but at best it is patronised, and at worst ignored by political parties, bureaucrats and even by some business organizations.

"This neglect of the manufacturing sector has to change. KIWIskills is being launched at 2pm in Christchurch today. A Manufacturing Summit is being held in Auckland tomorrow. The report to the summit must be taken seriously by the Government.

"The Buy Kiwi Made campaign, the Manufacturing Summit and the KIWIskills programme are concrete steps towards giving local manufacturing the support it needs, and deserves."


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