Kiwirail re-employs 17 Hillside staff.

Kiwirail says it has re-employed 17 staff made redundant from Hillside, of whom 11 remain working for the state-owned enterprise in Dunedin.

Last November about 90 Hillside Engineering Workshops employees were made redundant in the South Dunedin facility's partial closure, after KiwiRail failed to find a buyer for it.

That followed the redundancy of about 40 Hillside staff in 2011.

KiwiRail vowed to give redundant Hillside workers priority in applying for other jobs within the company, as long as their skills matched those required.

This week a KiwiRail spokeswoman said such successful applicants included 11 redundant Hillside workers who were given other jobs in Dunedin, and a further six recently deployed outside the city.

They were working in a variety of positions at the company's premises in Tauranga, Auckland, Christchurch and Lower Hutt, she said.

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn said dealings with redundant Hillside workers since November had been ''very constructive'' and redeployments followed a ''fair process''.

There was a high level of co-operation between KiwiRail and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) to assist affected staff as much as possible, Mr Quinn said.

Other KiwiRail staff throughout New Zealand had also shown their support to Hillsiders.

When the partial closure of Hillside was announced, seven KiwiRail workers - including one from Dunedin - offered to take voluntary redundancy in order for redundant Hillside workers to have their jobs.

Hillside's RMTU representatives were also given the opportunity, along with other redundant workers, to apply for any vacant KiwiRail jobs.

KiwiRail said one of Hillside's redundant RMTU representatives was redeployed; another two did not apply for other jobs within the company and a fourth was offered a position but turned it down.

A fifth union representative made redundant from Hillside was not successful in applying for another KiwiRail job.

KiwiRail also retained a small ''transition'' team of Hillside staff at the workshops, to see operations wound down.

''The transition team is responsible for finishing current projects, assisting with the transfer of work to Hutt Workshops and closing down parts of the Hillside site no longer required,'' the KiwiRail spokeswoman said.

Those workers were due to be made redundant within the next couple of months, when all that work had been completed.

In addition, about 18 Hillside foundry workers were employed by international firm Bradken, which has leased the Hillside foundry from KiwiRail and planned to move its Dunedin operations to the Hillside Rd site.

RMTU South Island organiser John Kerr said he was handling half a dozen grievance claims against KiwiRail made by redundant Hillside staff.

Most union members made redundant from Hillside had received what they were entitled to, he said, but ''half a dozen'' others were pursuing legal claims in relation to their job losses, the details of which were sub judice.

Mr Kerr said the union had little option but to co-operate with KiwiRail in assisting redundant Hillside workers.

''It's fair to say the process was co-operative, but of course the difference for us is it's very hard to be anything other than co-operative when the industrial relations system doesn't give you any options for fighting redundancy,'' he said.

KiwiRail would neither disclose the total value of Hillside redundancy packages, nor the cost of partly closing the South Dunedin facility.

-rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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