Hillside Engineering Workshops. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Rail and labour representatives from throughout Asia and
the Pacific are condemning the New Zealand Government for
allowing Dunedin's Hillside Engineering Workshops to all but
Calls for governments to prioritise in-country work tenders
were made by members of the International Centre for Labour
Solidarity (ICLS), which met in Wellington at the weekend.
Opponents of KiwiRail's decision to partly close Hillside
have blamed it on the of awarding of contracts to
international companies in preference to the South Dunedin
They said the Government rejected viable tenders from
KiwiRail to produce wagons at Hillside, leaving KiwiRail no
choice but to sell the workshops.
Those allegations have been dismissed by KiwiRail and the
Government, which said Hillside was unsuitable for the work.
Yesterday, the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU),
which was among those blaming the National Government for
Hillside's demise, published a resolution from the ICLS
meeting, which it hosted.
A dozen New Zealand delegates were involved as well as about
60 international guests from Japan, Korea, the Philippines,
Thailand, Taiwan and Australia.
The resolution stated members ''abhor'' and ''condemn'' the
Government's ''failure'' to give KiwiRail clear direction to
build railway rolling stock in New Zealand and the subsequent
decision to partially close Hillside, which resulted in mass
The ICLS resolution also criticised the Government for
failing to consider the wider economic and social
implications of its procurement decisions, which it said
resulted in the decline of New Zealand's manufacturing base,
the loss of highly skilled jobs and reduced investment in the
The ICLS endorsed the principle of fostering its members'
economic, political and social wellbeing by building railway
rolling stock ''as close to the point of use as possible''.
It called for affiliates to demand the adoption by various
governments of procurement policies which promoted in-country
contracts, and affirmed its commitment to employment and
production for the ''public good'' and not for private
RMTU general secretary Wayne Butson said international ICLS
delegates cited procurement rules of their governments which
made sure work was kept in-country.
''It's only New Zealand that is at the cutting edge of policy
for a free trade model, and that's why New Zealand is faring
the worst in manufacturing. There's a wider social and
economic cost to be factored in and we argue the cost to the
taxpayer is higher with cheap locomotives and high
Mr Butson said without policy changes, manufacturing would
get worse and more New Zealanders would lose their jobs.