Meeting over jobs raises hopes

There are reasons to hope for the futures of 79 workers made redundant at Southern Cross Forest Products after a meeting in Dunedin yesterday.

The ''stock take'' gathering had up to 100 workers from Mosgiel, Milton and Balclutha meeting representatives from about 20 employers, training providers and other organisations in Dunedin.

The meeting was organised by Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan and Work and Income. It was the third of its kind to be staged following the announcement in April of the company's restructuring and job cuts, including the closure of the Rosebank Sawmill in Balclutha.

Mr Cadogan could not be contacted afterwards, but Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, who also attended, said it had offered the workers reasons to hope.

''There was a whole lot of support that had been brought together, so I'm hopeful that the guys that were there would come out with some opportunities.''

Ministry of Social Development southern regional commissioner John Allen, who also attended, said each organisation explained the vacancies they were seeking to fill.

A round of ''speed dating'' then followed to try to match the workers to the vacancies, training providers or other opportunities, he said.

It was not yet known how many job offers would result, but the two-hour meeting was still ''roaring'' along close to 2pm, nearly an hour after it was supposed to finish, he said.

''I think the day went incredibly well. It was very positive. I was hugely impressed with the employers.

''Employers look for people with a work ethic. There would have been at least 100 people in the room and they've all got a work ethic. They're very employable and the place was just buzzing.''

Mr Allen said employers attending had jobs either available, or expected to have soon, from Southland to Timaru, and he urged workers to see what could be a ''turning point'' in their lives as an opportunity.

The event was also attended by the Otago Chamber of Commerce and Otago Southland Employers' Association, and he praised the work of Mr Cadogan in organising the meetings.

''He's just so passionate about the whole thing and drives it.''

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