Dave Kearns and Mike Tahana hang a Hillside protest banner
from the Roslyn overbridge yesterday. Photo by Gregor
Kiwirail management is about to begin its final
deliberations on which Hillside jobs are likely to go, after a
consultation period with employees and union delegates ended
yesterday - the eve of a public rally campaigning for a change
KiwiRail wants to cut 70 jobs from its nationwide rail
manufacturing and maintenance operations, 40 of which are
scheduled to go from Hillside Engineering.
KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn said the state-owned
enterprise had a set process to follow as part of its final
The process has been agreed in consultation with KiwiRail's
staff and union delegates.
"We will consider all information, finalise our decision
based on that input and then advise our people of the
result," Mr Quinn said.
Asked if KiwiRail would consider scrapping the proposal to
downsize its engineering operations workforce, Mr Quinn said
the "feedback and information from the consultation process"
would dictate any final decision.
"However, we must ensure we maintain the right resource
levels mapped against the work demand." The Rail and Maritime
Transport Union blames the proposed job losses on KiwiRail's
insistence on outsourcing rail-manufacturing contracts for
rolling stock and wagons to China.
RMTU organiser John Kerr said a recently commissioned
comparison of contract tenders between the respective
Hillside and Chinese bids was being submitted to KiwiRail as
part of the consultation process.
Mr Quinn said unless there was a competitive alternative,
KiwiRail would continue to source its rolling stock "as we
He declined to comment on whether any employees from the
job-threatened workshops at Hillside and Woburn, in Lower
Hutt, had volunteered for redundancy - a move the RMTU has
asked employees not to make.
When asked if outsourcing rail-manufacturing contracts at the
expense of New Zealand jobs had become a public relations
disaster for KiwiRail, Mr Quinn said "commercial imperatives"
were behind the move.
"The decision to buy our rolling stock is based on commercial
imperatives where we have thoroughly considered the
"We must buy well and deliver the sustainable railway for New
Zealand - that is our priority," he said in a statement.
KiwiRail was "very conscious of the effect these decisions
have on our team," but the tough decisions needed to be made.
Hillside staff will be informed of KiwiRail's final decision
later this month, Mr Quinn said.
RMTU organiser John Kerr said he appreciated how it took
"managerial courage" to make unpopular decisions.
Should KiwiRail choose to abandon its job-cutting proposal,
"it would be both correct and popular", Mr Kerr said.