'Heads up' leaves mill workers shocked

Southern Cross Forest Products' Mosgiel plant. Photos by Craig Baxter.
Southern Cross Forest Products' Mosgiel plant. Photos by Craig Baxter.

Southern Cross Forest Products' workers are gutted, stressed and shocked after yesterday being told their jobs could be gone by June 13.

A Millstream Sawmill worker told the Otago Daily Times workers were called to a noon meeting at the site where receiver KordaMentha told them it would close the company's Otago mills from mid-June.

What had started as a normal day finished with ''shocked'' workers being told to take half the day off, the Milton man said.

Workers had renewed hope their jobs might be safe after a third kiln was built at the Milton site, after a fire seriously damaged the business' Mosgiel plant last month.

But yesterday's announcement ended any hope.

''I was hoping there was going to be a buyer,'' the man, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

''I had a feeling it was going to go bad at some stage, but I just didn't think it was going to be this quick.''

While workers knew ''D-Day'' was approaching for the company's Otago sites, the news they could be unemployed from mid-June was gutting.

''They turned around and said the South Island sites were not viable and there was no interest in buying them as a whole,'' the man said.

''They pretty much said come back tomorrow and carry on with your job and do it to the best of your ability.

''But everyone's stressing and looking for another job.

''It sucks in a way, really. They are still expecting us to stay here to get the job done. Some of us are thinking we are going to have to use a sick day to go and try and get another job.''

After more than a decade working in the industry, he was unsure what he would do next.

''I'm still taking it in but I'm still trying to rush around and find myself a job.''

Receiver Brendon Gibson, of KordaMentha, said staff were not given notice but a ''heads up''.

''We were trying to be upfront with these people,'' he said.

''We felt it was best to inform the staff about what we were doing.''


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