New Zealand manufacturing has taken another hit this week, following confirmation from Fisher & Paykel Appliances that 29 workers from its Auckland factory will be made redundant.
Members of the Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union and FIRST Union were told at a meeting on Wednesday afternoon that one of Fisher & Paykel's fridge production lines is being discontinued in Auckland and sent to the company's Thailand factory.
Bill Newson, EPMU National Secretary, said today's announcement was more bad news for manufacturing workers, whose sector was being left in limbo by inadequate government support.
"These are good quality Kiwi jobs and unless the government takes practical steps to better support manufacturing, then we will see more skilled workers heading overseas."
"The job losses at Fisher & Paykel follow recent redundancies at Flotech, Summit Wool Spinners and Norman Ellison Carpets, and they will certainly not be the last while this government sits on its hand and refuses to address the problems facing manufacturing, in particular the overvalued New Zealand dollar."
All union members affected by the job losses will receive a redundancy package as part of their collective agreement, and the unions would work with their members and the company to ensure workers were properly supported, Bill Newson said.
Robert Reid, General Secretary of FIRST Union, said that workers were disappointed that yet another manufacturing line is closing and going overseas, and it reflected a complete lack of strategy from the government on jobs.
He said that FIRST Union has been assisting the workers at the company's factory in Rayong, Thailand to form a union, and he had visited the workers three times in recent years, where low wages was a significant problem for them.
"We are doubly disappointed that not only is Fisher & Paykel exiting from good jobs that are paid well above the minimum wage in New Zealand, but when it goes to Thailand, it is refusing to collectively bargain for any wage rate other than the minimum wage in that region of the country."
"Thailand is already a low wage country, and Fisher & Paykel needs to pull back from its stubborn approach to wage negotiations with the Thai workers, and start paying workers properly when it does shift production overseas," Robert Reid said.
For further information:
Bill Newson, EPMU National Secretary, on 027 538 4246 or Neale Jones, EPMU Communications Director on 027 276 5146
Robert Reid, FIRST Union General Secretary, on 021 535 933, or Sam Huggard, FIRST Union Campaigns Officer on 021 462 148