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Auckland factory closure shows jobs strategy missing

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The closure of an Onehunga textiles factory is a huge loss for the workers concerned and the South Auckland community, the workers’ union said today.

It serves as an urgent wakeup call for the government to be more proactive in supporting manufacturing, FIRST Union said.

85 workers are to lose their jobs as Cavalier-owned Norman Ellison Carpets closes its Onehunga spinning plant. This follows the earlier loss of 18 jobs from the plant in October 2011, and 26 further redundancies in April this year.

Today’s announcement also comes after nearly 50 redundancies at Summit Wool Spinners in Oamaru earlier this month, and Robert Reid, FIRST Union General Secretary, said the textile industry faces significant challenges.

“Today’s news is a huge blow for South Auckland workers and their families,” Robert Reid said.

“40 of our members agreed to alter their shift patterns earlier this year to reduce capacity, and that impacted on their take home pay.”

“The closure will be a severe blow on top of that, and workers will struggle to find alternative employment that matches former income levels.”

Robert Reid said the company had agreed to fund a training allowance of up to $250 per worker, and a redundancy support coordinator to assist workers to find new jobs.

“Our union has successfully implemented redundancy coordinators when Lane Walker Rudkin, Pacific Brands and Canterbury Spinners closed operations in Christchurch over recent years. We are pleased that Norman Ellison Carpets has supported this initiative also.”

Robert Reid said the closure was a further example of government’s do-nothing approach to monetary policy failing to protect jobs in industry.

“The government does not seem interested in ensuring that we have strong and viable industrial sectors, but is instead prepared to watch the anarchy of production run its course.”

“How many more jobs have to go before government realises there has to be a better plan and support for the manufacturing sector,” he said.