In a demonstration of solidarity, older KiwiRail workers
are offering their jobs to redundant Hillside employees and
electing to retire.
The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) was facilitating
discussion between the 90 workers facing redundancy at
Hillside and KiwiRail staff elsewhere in New Zealand who have
offered to retire.
RMTU South Island organiser John Kerr said a KiwiRail worker
in Christchurch, another in Invercargill and a few in the
North Island were willing to exchange places with those made
redundant from the South Dunedin workshops.
He said the older workers were close to retirement age and
felt it was more important for "younger blokes" to be
"It's quite gratifying in a way. It shows the depth of
solidarity among KiwiRail employees. Rail workers stick
together and there is a lot of support from our members
throughout the country for Hillside workers," Mr Kerr said.
The consultation period between KiwiRail and Hillside staff
KiwiRail was expected to announce a final decision concerning
the engineering workshops during a meeting at the site on
Staff had submitted many questions about their likely
redundancy and did not expect KiwiRail to significantly
change its proposal to make all but 25 employees redundant in
its partial closure of Hillside.
RMTU Hillside branch secretary Les Ingram said workers were
generally resigned to their fate.
"Most people just want to move on with their lives in
whatever form that is. There's still some anxiety about what
the future holds," he said.
The retention of more jobs by KiwiRail would be "nice" but
was unlikely, he said.
"It seems the decision has pretty well been made."
The "vast majority" of staff were concentrating on the few
positions available at Hillside, as well as other vacancies
within KiwiRail, both in Dunedin and elsewhere in the
country, Mr Ingram said.
A seminar was being held this week to assist workers in
compiling their CVs.
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said
"multiple" Dunedin businesses had come forward in the past
week with possible job offers for redundant Hillside workers.
He could not quantify the number of jobs available but said
there were good opportunities for ex-Hillside employees.
Through his involvement in the Hillside working group, Mr
Christie and other members were facilitating discussion
between those looking for work and those seeking skilled
Dunedin businesses are being asked to support redundant
Hillside workers by donating Christmas hamper items.
Dunedin South MP Clare Curran launched the Hillside hamper
appeal yesterday because she said Hillside workers would miss
out on their traditional Christmas hamper this year.
KiwiRail recently announced it would close most of the South
Dunedin manufacturing facility, leaving 90 of the 115
employees out of work.
Ms Curran asked those wanting to donate hamper items to
contact staff at her office between 9am and 5pm on weekdays.