The announcement of 49.5 redundancies at Summit Wool Spinners in Oamaru today shows the need for government action to protect jobs in the manufacturing sector, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.
The company has cited a lack of orders overseas driven in part by the high exchange rate as a cause of the redundancies.
EPMU national secretary Bill Newson says the job losses will be a blow to the workers affected and to the wider community.
"Summit is a major employer in North Otago and these jobs are not going to be easy to replace. A lot of our members are already considering moving out of the region to find work, with many of them looking to Australia.
"It's time the government recognised that its hands-off approach isn't working. The high dollar is killing our exporters, and we're only going to see more job losses like this unless the government steps up with a coherent strategy to support firms struggling with the economic downturn.
"Our thoughts are with our members and their families today, and a community that will feel the loss of these good jobs for some time to come."
All union members affected by the job losses will receive a redundancy package as part of their collective agreement.
The EPMU and FIRST Union have also negotiated a restructure of shifts with the company to ensure all remaining staff have their incomes protected.
For more information contact:
Bill Newson, EPMU National Secretary - 027 538 4246
Neale Jones, EPMU Communications Director - 027 276 5146