Dunedin's Hillside Workshops has missed out on a contract to build 300 wagons for KiwiRail because its bid was 25% more expensive than a Chinese rival.
The Government has already committed $750 million to help KiwiRail and it would be hard to argue it should follow that up with a subsidy to build its wagons, Transport Minister Steven Joyce says.
Negotiations between Hillside union delegates and their KiwiRail bosses have broken down on the eve of a public rally to campaign against proposed jobs cuts at the South Dunedin engineering outfit.
Hillside Engineering employees were left reeling after a meeting yesterday afternoon, at which KiwiRail managers announced more jobs will be cut from the workforce than was first proposed a month ago.
The future of Hillside Workshops could be in doubt if indications KiwiRail intends to buy more than 2000 railway wagons from China turn out to be true.
Six years ago, it seemed nothing could stop the rise and rise of the Hillside Engineering Group workshops. Now, it seems that once again the workshops are fighting for their lives.
A packed public meeting in South Dunedin last night slammed a KiwiRail decision to cut 41 jobs at the Hillside workshops, as a line-up of political, council and business figures vowed to fight the Government and keep skilled jobs in the city.
KiwiRail and the union representing some of its workers have reached a settlement over the unloading of new rolling stock from China at the Port of Tauranga.
Despite KiwiRail seeking expressions of interest for the sale of Dunedin's Hillside Engineering, the city's business community and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union are confident Hillside can survive.
Dunedin yesterday launched its bid to have a $375 million contract for Auckland's new electric commuter trains awarded to railway workshops in Dunedin and Lower Hutt - creating as many as 1270 jobs.
In 2004, great things were being talked about for the Hillside Group Engineering workshops, in Dunedin.
The next event in the battle to save Hillside Engineering workshops will see supporters taking to the streets in a rally.
Kiwi jobs will not keep disappearing overseas if Labour gains power, party leader Phil Goff said in Dunedin last night.
Hillside is to be sold. While it is heartening to observe the optimism at the news emanating from parties connected to, and associated with, the long-standing South Dunedin heavy engineering business, only time will tell whether there is any realistic basis for it; and whether, several months hence, the 123 or so remaining skilled staff will still have employment, and Dunedin a potentially key operation in its cluster of remaining engineering companies.
Labour and the Greens are throwing their weight behind a union campaign for KiwiRail to build Auckland's new electric locomotives and railcars.
Railway wagons built in China and bound for New Zealand's railway network may end up gathering dust at a New Zealand port if the Maritime Union carries out its threat not to unload the ships on which they arrive.
I'm well aware of the strong heritage of the Hillside Engineering workshops in Dunedin. I grew up three blocks away from the workshops and my grandfather was a boiler maker there many decades ago. ...
A rail and Maritime Transport Union delegate at Hillside has likened rail workers being told they had lost their job yesterday to "plucking sheep out of a herd".