90 jobs to go in partial Hillside sale

Nearly 90 workers face redundancy, with the news only part of Kiwirail's Hillside Workshop in Dunedin has been sold.

KiwiRail has entered into a conditional agreement to sell the foundry to Bradken, which will continue to operate the site, including supplying parts to KiwiRail as required. The sale is expected to be completed early next year.

KiwiRail's freight business would now operate the heavy lift facility and the rest of the site will be progressively closed down over the next few months as work is either completed or transferred to the Hutt Workshops near Wellington.

Chief executive Jim Quinn said it was unfortunate the company could not finalise a purchaser for the whole business, but he was pleased there would still be some operations continuing at the site.

Many would be sad about its closure; however, change was necessary as KiwiRail continued to build a sustainable rail business for the challenges ahead, he said.

''This will be very difficult for our staff and although some will be transferred to Bradken or the KiwiRail Freight business, there will be redundancies.''

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union said the news of a partial sale only would be cold comfort to nearly 90 workers who faced redundancy.

''The fact the foundry will remain open under the new owner and is of some solace, and KiwiRail's decision to retain eight jobs to do heavy lift maintenance on the site makes sense, but the fact is that the closure of the manufacturing facility is a body blow,'' said RMTU Acting General Secretary Todd Valster.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said the chamber welcomed the announcement of the partial sale and saw the announcement as positive for Dunedin in the long term.

''It quickly became clear that the historic business would not emerge intact from the sale . . . this hasn't been a quick or easy process. However, the Chamber is pleased that a company with local connections, and a feel for the local environment, is involved and will be making a capital investment of this size into the city.

''We're also very hopeful that the business will continue to grow and make a positive contribution to the local economy, increasing jobs in the future.''

Nothing new

The shift away from manufacturing within NZ is nothing new and laying the blame on the current National government is nothing but political rhetoric.  Let's not forget that GM, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford & Honda all once had assembly plants in NZ, but were systematically shut down from 1984 on (Labour Govt in power at that time), so this snow ball has been rolling for decades.

I recall (which might surprise some that have previously commented that I display all of the arrogance of youth!) much dissent at the time and the unions spouting that the Japanese assembled stuff was nothing but "Jap Crap", which bears a lot of similarities to the "Chinese Junk" mantra being rolled out at present. It's widely accepted that the Japanese are now makers of the most reliable vehicles in the world and what consumer today would be satisfied with driving around in overpriced NZ manufactured car, just so an unsustainable industry could be propped up. History is merely repeating, time to move on and look to the future.

Farewell Hillside Workshops, your site will make fantastic granny flats for our aging population.

90 jobs to go in partial Hillside sale

It has been four years now since Labour has been the government, and during that time John Key could have changed the deal or scrapped it altogether, but no, he and his party are milking the free trade deal for all its worth.  You can blame Helen Clark all you want but John Key knows exactly what he's doing and he doesn't give a s**t about you, me and the ordinary workers who are paying his wages.

National are the reason these workers are losing their jobs.  People need to wake up - National don't care.  They never have and they never will.  

These men at Hillside work their butts off for what? Repairing crap Chinese wagons - all so National can keep in sweet with the Chinese government.

Helen and Michael

And don't forget Helen and Michael bought KiwiRail back off Toll for far more than it was worth. This decision has ultimately cost KiwiRail workers their jobs, as the government owners now have to make it viable so savings have to be made at all levels.
And Helen has the cheek to lecture us here in South Dunedin about poverty. How ironic - she started the ball rolling.


Yep, 'a disgrace' sums it up. Our government steered Kiwirail down the road of favouring cheaply-made Chinese wagons, and now we're all paying the cost.
Incredibly short-sighted, and it really is vintage National Party wisdom: ignore the wider economic costs in the pursuit of greedy ideology.
For every person laid off there is a cost tenfold that will land on the taxpayer. More enlightened countries recognise this and insist local manufacturers are favoured in contract tenders.
But no, our Prime Minister has tied Chinese colours to our mast. We're selling our country, our soul and our identity.
Where does it end? We will all be tenants in our own country, collecting the dole.[Abridged]

Exclusivity not intended

Sorry, Autonomouse, I didn't mean to be exclusive to just John and Michael.You are correct. Labour signed the free trade agreement with China and gave them carte blanche to penetrate us.
On another note, I see there is a small delegation, from Dunedin, presently going to China to seek Chinese investment. Ironic.
We must now all learn the practice of doing the kow tow.


What a disgrace this is. Helen Clark signed a deal with the devil when she signed the free trade deal with China. It has destroyed this country and our workforce.
This is the result - more hard-working people are out of work and the strain on society is increased.
These wagons and locomotives could have - and should have - been built in New Zealand. They would have been of better quality, too.

I don't think so

John & Michael: If you want to vent your anger, perhaps you can direct it to Aunty Helen and her red shirt buddies whom brokered the free trade agreement

Thanks John and Michael

Our heartiest congratulations to John Key and his local sidekick, Michael Woodhouse, for their ongoing support for Hillside and its workers.
You are well on the way to 8% unemployment, up from the present 7.4%. Who knows? You might be in line for China's highest civilian honour once your public service here is done.


A sad conclusion to a sorry tale. The government and KiwiRail should be ashamed of themselves. They've failed NZ and Dunedin.
The Government should have insisted KiwiRail purchase NZ-made locos and rolling stock (Kiwi-made for KiwiRail), ensuring our trains are built to high standards of quality and reliability.
I don't know about others, but I certainly feel like a bunch of North Islanders have dumped on a city at the bottom of the country, and have taken short-cuts that will cost the country in the long term (through loss of the skilled staff and financial costs).
And once again, cost-effective rail solutions gets shunted to the siding.

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