Union worried about Kaitiaia's future after mill layoffs

First Union is concerned about the long-term future of wood company Juken (JNL) Limited's Kaitaia mill after the company announced layoffs due to an upgrade.

Union president Robert Reid said about a shift's worth of workers would be laid off from the mill to allow space to upgrade.

"They're going to spend some money... patching it up, but in order to do that [they will] get rid of one shift, lower production a bit and 30, 40 jobs are gone," he told The AM Show.

Mr Reid said it was good to hear the mill would not be closed in 2018, but he's not sure about what is going to happen to it in future.

"To give them their due at least they've made a decision not to go down the closure route but actually to try and keep it open," he said.

"But it's still going to be old technology, this might give it four or five years and then a bigger decision needs to be made."

JNL NZ Manager Dave Hilliard said the investment will provide a modern and safer mill.

"We want to keep it [the mill] open for the long-term, which is why we're proposing to make a multimillion-dollar investment in upgrading the site," he said in a statement.

"This investment will result in a modern, safer and more efficient mill which can continue to be one of Kaitaia's largest employers well into the future."

It's the second round of layoffs at JNL in 2018 after the company halved the workforce at their Gisborne mill from 205 to around 100 in February.

If the Kaitaia mill did end up closing at some point in the future Mr Reid says something needs to be done to replace it.

"Kaitaia needs major manufacturing," he said

"If it doesn't have JNL it needs something else that needs to be done probably in the wood industry as well."


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