Summit joins Job Support Scheme

Summit Wool Spinners is among the first three employers to sign up for financial assistance under the Job Support Scheme, saving 57 jobs at its Oamaru factory.

Summit - Oamaru's second-biggest employer - and the Ministry of Social Development have signed an agreement for a nine-day fortnight involving a wage top-up by the company.

Although about 50 jobs have been lost at Summit due to restructuring, following an unprecedented fall in orders, the agreement saved another 57 jobs.

Fisher and Paykel in Auckland has also joined the scheme, with 60 jobs retained at its manufacturing arm.

Another six jobs will be retained at a manufacturing firm which wanted to remain anonymous, Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett said yesterday.

The agreement was the result of a co-operative approach among unions, employees and the company, Summit director Ricky Hammond-Tooke said.

"We want to acknowledge the employees who made the difficult decision to take voluntary redundancy.

"It was upsetting to see experienced employees leaving the company in this way but this went a long way towards resolving the situation.

"In particular, we want to thank all our employees for their willingness to help the company through this time and we recognise that they had to be flexible in how they worked to ensure production remained efficient.

"Some employees have had to change shifts and hours of work as well," Mr Hammond-Tooke said.

The company also acknowledged the help it received from the Otago Southland Employers Association in Dunedin and from the two site unions - the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and the National Distribution Union.

"This agreement will help us weather the difficult times ahead and enable us to make realistic plans to see us through the recession as we currently understand it," he said.

Ms Bennett said Work and Income had about 60 approaches from mainly manufacturing and construction businesses about the scheme and she expected more firms would "come on board" in the next few weeks.

NDU president Robert Reid was particularly pleased with the agreement at Summit, saying only 48 voluntary redundancies were made when it initially looked like more than 105 workers would have to be made redundant.

"In a community like Oamaru, 105 job losses would have been devastating," he said.


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