Final day at Hillside

Kiwirail's closure of its Hillside Engineering Workshops is complete.

The last of 20 staff retained to close down all but the workshop's foundry and heavy lift capability finished last Friday.

It was a quiet end to a very public and controversial decision by KiwiRail to make almost all its 100-odd Hillside staff redundant last December.

The company kept 20 workers to tidy up loose ends and close down the facility, on the understanding those employees would be made redundant when that work was complete.

A KiwiRail spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that day had come.

''The last of the staff involved in the close-down process left Hillside on June 28. Some of the close-down crew left at various stages before the final day, due to finding other employment,'' she said.

KiwiRail had tried to sell the Hillside workshops but succeeded only in leasing the foundry component to international firm Bradken, which already had a presence in Dunedin.

Bradken announced it would move its operations to the Hillside foundry, and grow its business in Dunedin. Accordingly, it employed about a dozen redundant Hillside foundry workers to boost its staff.

It also advertised its foundry and buildings near the Dunedin Railway Station for sale.

The property agent said this week those five sections all had interested buyers and sale negotiations were continuing.

KiwiRail still had about seven Hillside workers operating the heavy lift. They were the only ones left at the South Dunedin workshops, 130 years on from the facility's establishment.

In its heyday, Hillside employed hundreds of people.

There was political debate and widespread sadness when KiwiRail announced it would no longer keep the facility afloat.



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