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Jobs Crisis Deepens As Kawerau Paper Mill Halves Production

September 10, 2012
Media Release

Jobs Crisis Deepens As Kawerau Paper Mill Halves Production

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union is warning of a deepening jobs crisis following Norske Skog’s announcement it will halve production at its Tasman paper mill in Kawerau.

The EPMU will now consult with the company over the redundancies, but is warning more than 100 jobs could go.

This follows the announcement of 120 redundancies at Solid Energy’s Huntly East mine, up to 400 jobs in the balance at Spring Creek, and last week’s announcement that 100 jobs will go at the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter by November.

EPMU national secretary Bill Newson says Norske Skog’s announcement is a blow to the community and a sign of a growing jobs crisis in New Zealand.

“The local economy in Kawerau is heavily reliant on the mill, and these job losses will have an impact throughout the community. We’ll be working to save as many of these jobs as possible through the consultation, but the eventual outcome will almost certainly be large scale redundancies.

“The tragedy is that while there’s little that could be done to avoid falling demand overseas, our high exchange rate has helped to make the Kawerau mill uncompetitive and contributed to the loss of jobs.

“It’s particularly galling that at the same time Norske Skog is cutting jobs in New Zealand, it’s actually investing in jobs in across the Tasman thanks to the support of the Australian Government. It’s time our Government showed the same kind of support for Kiwi jobs.

“No one is blaming the Government for the state of the global economy, but there are things it could be doing to help protect local jobs and encourage a thriving manufacturing sector so that people who do lose their jobs don’t have to join the dole queue or leave for Australia to find work.

“We’re calling on the Government to look at ways to stabilise the exchange rate and bring it under control, for example by supporting changes to the Reserve Bank Act to protect jobs and promote growth.

“We also need a return to the focus on jobs that we saw at the time of the Jobs Summit. New Zealand will never build a high wage economy without a plan to support a modern, innovative manufacturing sector, and our Government needs to recognise that won’t happen unless it takes a more active role in the economy.

“Mass redundancies are becoming an all too familiar pattern, and as they continue to pile up it’s becoming clearer just how badly the Government’s hands-off approach is failing New Zealand. Unless the Government changes course urgently the jobs crisis will only get worse.”


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