180 jobs lost as Fisher & Paykel plant closes

  • 05/04/2016
Following today's meeting staff were sent home to spend the rest of the day with their families (Newshub.)
Following today's meeting staff were sent home to spend the rest of the day with their families (Newshub.)

Fisher & Paykel will close the doors to their East Tamaki manufacturing plant this year, resulting in a loss of 180 jobs.

The company says it is due to a decline in demand for the products they manufacture in the Auckland suburb.

The local community will be hit hard with the closure, with many having to take lower paid, insecure jobs to make ends meet.

The factory currently operates four days a week and employs 186 staff. The closure is likely to be in two stages -- July and November -- with the factory decommissioning beyond that.

EPMU National Secretary Bill Newson said today is a grim day for employees at the Auckland factory.

"There are quite a few husband and wife couples, who work in Fisher & Paykel and have known this for quite some time. There are a lot of families in stress this evening," Mr Newson said.

He said at EPMU they have been working with Fisher & Paykel to try to avoid this from happening. There has been a decline in production volume, due to less demand. But he says the company’s move to Thailand for cheaper labour has been difficult to combat.

"The announcement was a real shock and some of these workers are very worried, well they’re all worried and quite stunned. While they try and work through this, we have some very stressed out people and families in Auckland this evening."

He says from a Union perspective the writing has been on the wall for some time. EMPU will work with employees and Fisher & Paykel over the coming weeks and months to secure more details.

Managing Director and chief executive Stuart Broadhurst announced the closure to employees today, saying it was nothing to do with their performance and he has enormous respect for his team.

"Until now the factory's staff have staved off the inevitable.  However, the harsh reality is this factory is no longer sustainable due to the lack of scale and cost-competitiveness the facility and its products face in today's global whiteware marketplace," Mr Broadhurst said.

"This factory would have closed much earlier, rather than experience a series of downsizings over recent years, if not for the loyalty and commitment of this team."

He said the closure had been pre-empted as far back as 2007, and that staff have known that this was to happen eventually.

"Although it has been on everyone's radar for a considerable period, we recognise this does not diminish the shock of this announcement at a personal level.

"Because of this factory's proud history and the efforts of all the staff involved, this has been a very tough decision, although we expect it will come as no surprise to those familiar with manufacturing in the whiteware business."

In future, upgraded models of some of the manufactured refrigeration products, currently made in East Tamaki, will be made at an existing Fisher & Paykel plant in Thailand or in the wider group in China.