Hillside will rise again.
The message was clear from proud past and present workshop
staff in South Dunedin yesterday.
About 60 people gathered at the Hillside Engineering
Workshops main gates in Hillside Rd from 12.30pm to mark the
first anniversary of the facility's closure.
The ''Hillside Not Forgotten'' rally was organised by the
Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) for those made
redundant last year to reunite.
It was a chance to acknowledge the facility's long history,
its importance to Dunedin's economy, and those who helped
build New Zealand's rail system. The rally also gave union
representatives the chance to vent about government decisions
to contract manufacturing work outside New Zealand.
Dunedin South Labour MP Clare Curran spoke about the party's
promise to reopen Hillside if elected to power, and many of
those present denounced Prime Minister John Key and Economic
Development Minister Steven Joyce as those responsible for
''We must not give up hope that Hillside will one day again
make and repair rail carriages and locomotives,'' Ms Curran
''This is not a romantic pipe dream.
''Rail has had a renaissance around the world.''
Former Hillside worker Stuart Johnstone addressed the crowd
in his new role as an RMTU organiser.
Mr Johnstone moved his family to Auckland after being made
redundant from Hillside and was surprised to learn the
struggle of Hillside workers had made an impact nationwide.
''It really is amazing how many people know the whole
story,'' he said.
''Hillside has become the symbol for the 40,000 job losses in
manufacturing throughout the country.''
He said the past 12 months had been a ''mixed bag'' for
redundant Hillside workers.
Some moved to Auckland and other New Zealand cities for
KiwiRail jobs, while others relocated their families to
Australia for better work prospects.
Some stayed in Dunedin, predominantly for family reasons, and
looked for work outside their skill set.
That was particularly hard, especially for those who drove
past Hillside daily and were reminded of work in their
preferred trade, Mr Johnstone said.
''People have had to take whatever jobs they can find. It is
still very raw for some people.''
Some workers had not found employment since being made
redundant, although it was hard to know how many, Mr
Staff employed by Bradken to work the Hillside foundry were
doing well, and KiwiRail still had employees operating the
heavy lift capability inside the workshops, he said.
Also speaking at the rally were former Hillside workers Dave
Kearns and Jim Kelly, as well as Andrew Tait, of the
International Socialist Organisation, Mana Party and
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.