Hillside rehires workers on fixed contracts

John Kerr
John Kerr
Kiwirail is seeking to rehire six rail engineers to work at its Hillside Workshops in South Dunedin on fixed-term contracts.

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn said the six positions had become available as a result of various unplanned work orders.

The fixed-term employment contracts would be for a six-month period and were required given the "fluctuation" of engineering work being undertaken at Hillside.

KiwiRail cut 44 jobs from the landmark South Dunedin rail engineering workshops, last June, despite torrid opposition from the Rail Manufacturing and Transport Union (RMTU), Hillside employees, Dunedin's engineering cluster of local businesses, civic organisations and the Otago Chamber of Commerce.

Jim Quinn
Jim Quinn
RMTU members at Hillside advanced a vote of no-confidence in their KiwiRail managers last November, as unrest and discord developed among employees when contractors were brought in to undertake work at engineering workshops.

RMTU southern organiser John Kerr said KiwiRail's move to hire new workers at Hillside was evidence the state-owned enterprise was "doing the right thing".

Bringing in workers for the "unanticipated" contractual work was "good for everyone" and would help the relationship between employers, management, Hillside employees and union members, he said.

Mr Quinn said KiwiRail would advertise this weekend for applicants for the contracts.

Former employees could apply, "as long as they can meet the skills criteria".

There were no management changes in response to the union's vote of no-confidence, he said, and "KiwiRail has every confidence in the Hillside management team. They continue to actively consult with the workforce and union to improve work practices and productivity." Recent feedback on the management team from both the union and workforce was positive, he said.

Contractors, "mainly from local Dunedin businesses", continued to be used at the site "for some short-term work and tasks that require skills we don't have internally," he said.

KiwiRail had sourced no significant new engineering contracts for Hillside Workshops despite continuing efforts, Mr Quinn said.


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