Hillside workers meet to discuss redundancies and 'vent'

Les Ingram
Les Ingram
"A million and one questions" are being put to KiwiRail by Hillside workers wanting to know conditions of their redundancy, exactly when they will be expected to finish and how outstanding work can be completed in time, union members say.

About 95 of Hillside's 115 staff are members of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) and almost all attended a meeting at the South Dunedin workshops yesterday morning.

It was the workers' first opportunity to discuss collectively last week's announcement by KiwiRail that 90 staff would be made redundant in a partial closure of the workshops.

RMTU Hillside branch secretary Les Ingram, who is facing redundancy, said workers had "a million and one questions" for KiwiRail and the meeting was a chance for those to be received by the union and put to the state-owned enterprise.

RMTU South Island organiser John Kerr said workers also needed a chance to "vent" because the announcement was still "raw".

He said KiwiRail's consultation period with workers ended on November 28, and a final announcement would be made by KiwiRail on December 3.

He did not expect KiwiRail's proposal of 90 redundancies to change significantly, but there could be a chance to save one or two more jobs.

"We talked about the seven jobs being kept in the heavy lift, and whether that would be enough to operate it. There is also a fair amount of work to be done before KiwiRail closes the project and fabrication shops, and we want to know whether it is realistic to get work completed by December 21," he said.

Work included building rail wagons.

Mr Kerr said union members were also curious about the terms and conditions of working for Bradken, which has leased the Hillside foundry amid plans to consolidate its Dunedin operation at the site.

The union would make sure Hillside workers got everything they were entitled to from KiwiRail, he said.




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