Hillside job hopes go

Hillside Workshops. Photo by ODT.
Hillside Workshops. Photo by ODT.
Any hope of further jobs being saved at Hillside is gone, following KiwiRail's confirmation yesterday all but 25 staff have been made redundant.

Workers had harboured a remote hope the state-owned enterprise could retain one or two more jobs than the seven it proposed to keep for Hillside's heavy-lift capability.

In addition, Bradken planned to employ 18 Hillside workers in its acquisition of the foundry.

The 110-strong workforce gathered to hear KiwiRail mechanical engineering group general manager Clive Cooper-Smith confirm the company's redundancy proposal at a meeting on site yesterday morning.

KiwiRail has selected 20 staff to work through the transition phase of closing the rest of Hillside, which was expected to take a few months.

Of the remaining workers, 30 would finish on Friday and 35 on December 21.

They will be paid until the end of January, then receive redundancy packages.

KiwiRail will also consider voluntary redundancy from any employees within the company who have jobs consistent with those at Hillside, and will ring-fence any such vacancies for applications by Hillside staff.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union South Island organiser John Kerr said the union had fought hard for reasonable redundancy packages and alternative employment opportunities for Hillside workers.

About half-a-dozen KiwiRail employees from throughout New Zealand, who were close to retirement age, had expressed a desire to take redundancy in order for Hillside workers to have their jobs, he said.

The union and KiwiRail would look into whether the offers suited anyone at Hillside.

KiwiRail had provided good redundancy packages for all Hillside staff and the few who had been at the South Dunedin facility for three or four decades would receive about the equivalent of a year's wages, Mr Kerr said.

"That's at the top end of redundancy packages, but even those who have worked there about five years will be receiving a five-figure redundancy," he said.

Mr Kerr said new owner Bradken was expected to tell workers tomorrow who it planned to employ at the foundry.

Other redundant staff were considering a variety of options.

Labour's Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said yesterday's redundancy confirmation was not a surprise, but it was still "gutting".



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