Job losses continue, union fightback urgently needed

– Tim Bowron and Don Franks

On April 17 manufacturer Fisher & Paykel announced that it would be closing its Mosgiel plant near Dunedin and shifting production to Mexico, Thailand and Italy with the loss of some 430 jobs. Hard on the heels of this announcement came the news that Dunedin textile firm Tamahine Knitwear which employs about 50 workers would also be closing its doors, while in the banking sector ANZ National Bank is to move approximately 500 clerical and IT jobs to India.

National and local body politicians wept crocodile tears over the news; Finance Minister Michael Cullen lamenting that “manufacturing jobs of this sort have been moving, sadly, to third world countries around the world for any number of years” while Dunedin mayor Peter Chin said he was “shocked” and “hugely disappointed.”

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Recent job losses latest in a trend

The announcement of over 1000 job losses yesterday is certainly bad news for New Zealand workers, yet while various commentators have blamed the latest round of redundancies on the high dollar or the free trade agreement with China, this disappearance of jobs is nothing new, in 2007 job losses made the news almost every other week. The following article from the December 2007 issue of The Spark looks at last years job losses and the need for international solidarity to defend jobs:

2007 a tough year for New Zealand Workers

Byron Clark

2007 was a tough year for workers in New Zealand. In February the Brightwood milling plant closed leaving workers “high and dry” as the company’s aggressive anti-union stance left them with no redundancy cover. Later that month a Christchurch ice cream factory announced its closure. This seemed to be the start of a disturbing trend, as 2007 also saw Sleepyhead and Fisher & Paykel laying off 350 staff each, as well as redundancies at Click Clack, G.L Bowron, Skellerup, 3M and others. While manufacturing was the hardest hit, jobs seemed to be disappearing all over the place, Sealord announced plans to cut staff in September and more recently 60 jobs were lost at at freezing works owned by meat company PPCS. SkyCity announced 250 job cuts as a ‘cost cutting’ measure in May, and Telecommunications company TelstraClear announced 100 job cuts in July, with rival Telecom announcing 250 job cuts eight days later.

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