Labour promise of reopening Hillside

The Labour Party has committed to re-establishing the Hillside workshops in Dunedin if it forms the next Government.

The confirmation came after one of the Dunedin workers facing redundancy addressed the Labour Party conference in Auckland yesterday.

Originally from Australia, Stuart Johnstone, a mechanical engineer and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union Hillside branch chairman, moved to Dunedin about eight years ago and has worked at Hillside for nearly four and a-half years.

He told the Otago Daily Times he was among the 90 workers facing redundancy, and limited prospects in Dunedin meant he and his young family were likely to move back to Australia.

"I'm on the list of people ... My wife and kids, we're certainly going to have to re-evaluate where we live."

Mr Johnstone addressed the conference yesterday morning, as did Dunedin South Labour MP Clare Curran, before "unanimous support" was given to reversing the losses at Hillside under a future Labour-led Government.

That included re-establishing a railway manufacturing workshop at Hillside, and directing KiwiRail to provide ongoing contracts to ensure rail vehicles were built in New Zealand.

There would also be new directives to government departments, state-owned entities and other agencies to consider New Zealand-owned or New Zealand-based entities first, when making procurement decisions, and new requirements for state-owned entities to consider the social impact of any decisions they were making.

-chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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