Hillside decision condemned

Hillside workers were united in their condemnation of KiwiRail's proposal to axe up to 40 jobs at the South Dunedin engineering plant, when they rallied together at a union meeting yesterday.

RMTU Hillside delegate Dave Kearns said the figures and pricing of the Chinese tenders did not stack up.

RMTU delegates obtained the Chinese tender figures from KiwiRail at a meeting this week and presented the details to Hillside workers yesterday.

"We've seen the figures around the pricing of Hillside's work and the Chinese bid and we don't think there is a case for going overseas," he said.

KiwiRail plans to outsource the ongoing manufacture of rolling stock units to Chinese firms - a decision which Rail and Maritime Transport Union delegates blame for a proposal to cut 70 jobs from among its rail engineering divisions around New Zealand.

The RMTU will seek independent advice on the pricing and numbers as it plans a case for keeping the work in New Zealand.

"This isn't just about dollars and cents, it's about the dozens of businesses that depend on Hillside for work and the people those businesses employ. The downstream impact of these cuts on our families and the wider community doesn't bear thinking about," Mr Kearns said.

RMTU organiser John Kerr, of Christchurch, said KiwiRail management did not understand the passion which Hillside employees had for their work.

He called on employees to rally together and "work hard" to gain public support from "all around Dunedin" for a campaign to fight the proposed lay-offs.

"Our strength is in our community and in our numbers. We need to make a point to every household in Dunedin to support us," Mr Kerr said.

The campaign will start with a petition, pamphlet drops to South Dunedin residents, protest postcards for individuals to sign and send to the Government, and a public meeting and rally next Wednesday, Mr Kerr told workers.

Hillside-based union stalwart Jim Kelly called for workers to unite and get behind the campaign.

"This is about your jobs. We need to get everyone involved," he said.

Workers voted unanimously to condemn the job cuts proposal and called for KiwRail to reverse its decision on outsourcing engineering contracts.

The RMTU intends to take the campaign to Cabinet ministers to ensure the future of New Zealand railways secures Government support, Mr Kerr said.

Keeping railway manufacturing work and jobs in New Zealand made "good sound economic and social sense," he said.

The Government, as the major company shareholder of KiwiRail, had an obligation to the wider community to keep jobs and not stand by as work went elsewhere, Mr Kerr said.

He called for people to attend the public meeting on Wednesday, June 22 at 7pm, at Cargill Enterprises Hall, 199 Hillside Rd, Dunedin, to show their support for the Keep Kiwis Working Campaign.

 

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