By Dan Satherley
Eighty-five workers at Norman Ellison Carpets have lost their jobs after owner Cavalier announced this morning it would be closing its spinning plant in Onehunga.
The closure follows two recent rounds of redundancies at the plant – 18 lost their jobs in October and 26 in April.
“Today’s news is a huge blow for South Auckland workers and their families,” says FIRST Union general secretary Robert Reid.
“40 of our members agreed to alter their shift patterns earlier this year to reduce capacity, and that impacted on their take home pay.”
“The closure will be a severe blow on top of that, and workers will struggle to find alternative employment that matches former income levels.”
Cavalier managing director Colin McKenzie says the decision was not taken lightly.
"For some time we have had over-capacity at our plants and rationalising our operations is the only responsible option for us to balance woollen yarn spinning capacity with woollen yarn sales."
He says the Onehunga plant doesn't have the same "long-term potential" as the company's purpose-built plants in Napier and Whanganui.
Eight of the workers will be transferred to Norman Ellison Carpets' tufting plant, and the company hopes to be able to relocate "at least a dozen" in other plants.
Mr Reid said the union was pleased the company had agreed to fund a training allowance of $250 for each worker, as well as providing a redundancy support coordinator to help them find new jobs.
But he slammed the Government for not supporting the manufacturing sector.
“The Government does not seem interested in ensuring that we have strong and viable industrial sectors, but is instead prepared to watch the anarchy of production run its course,” says Mr Reid.
“How many more jobs have to go before Government realises there has to be a better plan and support for the manufacturing sector?”
The Onehunga spinning plant has been in operation since the late 1800s.
Earlier this month nearly 50 workers lost their jobs at Summit Wool Spinners in Oamaru. The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union blamed the high dollar and the Government's lack of a "coherent strategy" to deal with the hurt it's causing exporters.
In February, Cavalier reported a six-month profit to December 31, 2011 of $3.5 million, down 58 percent on 2010.
After the restructuring, it hopes to boost earnings to $10 to $12 million after tax in the 2012-13 year.
source: newshub archive