The last shift-workers leave the Summit Wool Spinners'
employees' car park yesterday afternoon. Photo by David
As shift workers at the Summit Wool Spinners plant in
Oamaru clocked off for the final time yesterday, the Ministry
of Social Development (MSD) said it was well placed to help
them find new employment - and job offers are already being
The plant will not officially cease operating on the site
until today, but wool spinners made redundant following the
sale of the plant finished up yesterday.
Shortly before and after 5pm, the last few employees left
alone or in pairs. The employees' car park on Weaver St used
to be full at that time of day with the changes in shifts -
at 4.30pm yesterday there were 11 cars there.
Most workers did not want to stop to talk to the Otago
Daily Times, and those who did would not give their
names. They said it was a sad day, with only a handful of
staff in the last shift.
One man said the plant had been a major part of Oamaru's
employment structure for decades, members of the family
having worked there for generations.
Another man was confident there would be something on the
site in the future.
''It [the mill] has been there for more than 130 years,
survived two world wars and a depression,'' he said.
Social development labour market manager Emma Hamilton said
employers in Oamaru, and across the Canterbury and Otago
regions had already made inquiries about the availability of
Ms Hamilton said only a ''small number'' of employees had so
far registered with Winz, but more were expected to register
once they received their final pay cheque.
She said a dedicated resource centre had also been
established in Oamaru to deal with the expected influx of
inquiries from redundant workers and ensure a ''smooth
transition into other employment.
''Our staff are keeping in regular contact with the Summit
management in order to streamline suitable vacancies so that
they are able to quickly advise staff, and we have one full
time work-broker matching Summit workers to suitable job
offers as they become available.
''The Canterbury Jobs Hub is listing between six and eight
new jobs every day, and have approximately 230 jobs
available. Our team is working with a local training provider
... to provide some targeted assistance specifically for
Summit staff, if required.''
She said there were about 20 positions available in the
Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton said he had been ''very
impressed'' with the response from the ministry.
''The MSD have prepared themselves very well. In the first
instance they had meetings with up to 70 affected staff just
to begin to get an expectation about what the possible
options should be.''
Mr Familton said the ministry would offer ''across the
board'' assistance to affected workers''. First Union
textiles secretary Paul Watson said both Mr Familton and the
union had been in contact with the ministry to seek funding
for an additional support programme.
''The union is also committed to establishing ongoing support
for all redundant workers by working with the mayor of
Waitaki District to establish a redundancy support programme
that offers additional support than that offered by
government agencies. This approach has worked well in
previous redundancies in the textiles sector ...''
He added that the union also had collective employment
agreements at other Godfrey Hirst and Canterbury Spinners
work sites, and had been in regular contact with the company.
''Obviously we would want to see the establishment of
long-term employment security for those offered jobs and more
will emerge on this point in the near future.''
However, workers still had no certainly about their futures,
''Summit made a significant contribution to Oamaru. It has
long been the town's major employer. Its closure is a very
painful one for its workforce and their families.
''That there is still no certainty on the future of the plant
under Canterbury Spinners makes it more difficult for the
workers and the community.''