Joint Press release: National Distribution Union, Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.
Riccarton Redundancies Shatter Families
Soon-to-be redundant Feltex workers in Riccarton are devastated, angry and bitter, says National Distribution Union site delegate Tony Sparks.
At a meeting earlier today, Godfrey Hirst told workers that the majority of staff will be made redundant on the 3rd of November with a 35 person skeleton crew kept on for a month to close the plant. The skeleton crew will be employed on the existing Feltex agreement but without redundancy provisions. All workers have been sent home for 24 hours.
National Distribution Union site delegate Tony Sparks has worked at the company for 21 ½ years. His two brothers have worked for Feltex for 8 and 10 years, his father worked at the site for 28 years and another 7 family members have worked at the site over the years.
“Today’s announcement had devastated the workforce - we feel angry and bitter,” he said. “They simply told us: ‘You’re all gone, you’re being shut down’. It was just dropped on us like a bomb shell - everyone’s shell shocked.”
“Last week there were 70 unknown names up for redundancy and all of a sudden it’s the whole plant.”
National Secretary Laila Harre says that the redundancies were another kick in the guts for workers, particularly the many long term staff like Tony who will only receive a redundancy of up to $15,000 when previously owed up to $60,000.
“Godfrey Hirst thinks that they can get New Zealand’s biggest carpet manufacturer at a bargain basement price,” she said. “But whilst a building can’t stand up and organise –workers can. They certainly won’t be getting cut price workers by slashing the Feltex wages and conditions won by generations of workers and families like the Sparks.”
EPMU National Secretary Andrew Little, whose union represent Feltex trades workers, says that the two unions will campaign to maintain the Feltex wages and conditions.
“The National Distribution Union and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union will be looking at all possible avenues for action – legal and industrial.”