Stop-work to support Hillside workers

More than 4000 rail and port workers throughout New Zealand are being included in a brief stop-work on Friday in support of redundant Hillside workers.

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) has asked all its members to put their tools down for two minutes at 11am on Friday, when Hillside workers will hold a ceremony at the gates of the defunct South Dunedin workshops.

It will be the last day for 35 Hillside staff, and the end of 130 years of full operation at the facility.

Thirty staff finished work on December 7 and another 20 will be made redundant as soon as they finish closing down all but Hillside's foundry and heavy lift capacity.

Bradken has leased the foundry and employed 21 former Hillside workers to staff it.

KiwiRail will keep seven Hillside staff employed for the heavy lift, at least until its Christchurch equipment is repaired.

RMTU Hillside branch secretary Les Ingram said all were welcome to attend the Friday ceremony outside Hillside's main gates.

Wreaths will be laid at the WW1 and WW2 memorials on site, which acknowledged Hillside staff killed in battle.

Members of the public were invited to lay a cut flower alongside, Mr Ingram said.

He hoped all Hillside staff would attend, but said many were still extremely upset about the facility's partial closure and mass redundancies.

''There is a lot of emotion at the moment. It's quite distressing to see people that have worked here all their life looking around the place for the last time, and people taking photographs,'' Mr Ingram said.

He had invited members of parliament and other Dunedin leaders to the ceremony, and said some planned to address the crowd.

RMTU members included about 3500 rail and 900 port workers.

Associated union members were also invited to take part in the stop-work.

Hillside workers would have a ''last ever wind-up'' function following the ceremony, Mr Ingram said.

''We live in hope Hillside will rise again,'' he said.

rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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