Hillside support group to continue

John Christie
John Christie
Despite the winding down of operations at Hillside Engineering Workshops, its eclectic support group lives on.

Hillside working party members met yesterday morning to discuss whether the group was still relevant, given KiwiRail's proposal to cut 90 of its 115 Hillside staff.

All Dunedin-based politicians as well as Dunedin City Council representatives, union members and industry leaders were involved in the party, which was established three years ago and opened to a wide range of people who could help.

Group chairman and Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said he thought the working party's days had come to a close but, more than ever, Hillside workers needed support.

The working party was determined to provide or facilitate practical help for those facing redundancy, he said.

"On reflection, we still see value in the group continuing to meet. That assistance is things like CV preparation, identifying job opportunities, liaising and linking various organisations with people at Hillside and activating where we can various initiatives to ensure that the best possible outcome is obtained," he said.

All apprentices at Hillside had been given a guarantee they could finish practical work before the workshops were wound down in a few weeks, Mr Christie said.

"Most are pretty well through and will be able to finish," he said.

The job market remained "tough", but there were opportunities for skilled staff in Dunedin, Mr Christie said.

"We've had a number of businesses contact us to say they have opportunities, which are wide and varied. They are not all directly linked to the skill set of Hillside workers, but we will try to match up people where we can."

The working party would meet in another two weeks, and continue to do so until there was nothing more members could offer Hillside staff.

Union representatives in particular had praised the working party's support, Mr Christie said.

"Our job isn't finished just yet. It's about minimising the impact of redundancies on the city and workers," he said.



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