Kiwirail takes full responsibility for its partial closure of
Hillside Engineering Workshops and the redundancy of 90
workers, board of directors chairman John Spencer says.
Mr Spencer said the Government should not be blamed for
The decision to sell Hillside was not made quickly or
lightly, but there was simply not enough work for the
facility to be kept running in its current state, he said.
"KiwiRail's management team and board looked very carefully
at the options for the future of Hillside. This included the
forward work opportunities and the sale.
"We know this has been hard on the staff and our priority now
is ensuring as smooth a transition for them as possible," he
Hillside workers and members of the Rail and Maritime
Transport Union blamed the National Government and KiwiRail
board for this week's shock announcement.
They accused board members and those in the relevant
ministers' offices of rejecting commercially viable options
for future work at Hillside.
In response, Mr Spencer said the board and management team
took full responsibility for the "hard decisions" which had
to be made to ensure the future of KiwiRail's 4000 other
"These decisions are ours, not the Government's. Our priority
is to ensure a sustainable future for KiwiRail in which it no
longer has to rely on government handouts and can, therefore,
eventually determine its own future," he said.
Prime Minister John Key's office also rejected claims the
Government was responsible for Hillside's demise.
A spokeswoman Mr Key said Hillside job losses were not the
result of Government directives.
She said the previous government bought KiwiRail for $700
million when it was not a commercially viable business, and
despite "significant" taxpayer investment since then, it
still could not stand alone.
"This Government is investing $750 million in KiwiRail over
three years as part of a turnaround plan to ensure there are
many more jobs at KiwiRail in coming years.
"The Government regrets news of job losses whenever they
occur," she said.
The Government had no plans to sell KiwiRail, which was
trying "very hard" to become financially self-sustaining by
2020, the spokeswoman said.