Source: Fair Go
Fifty eight jobs are likely to go at a washing powder factory in Petone.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union says at a meeting late today, the workers were told their jobs will likely be gone and the factory will close by 2015.
Unilever has been manufacturing in Petone since 1919 and makes Surf, Drive and Persil brands for the Australasian market.
According to the EPMU, the company has cited decreased demand for washing powder, with consumers buying more liquid products, as one of the reasons for the closure, and says this does not reflect on the skills and commitment of its workers.
EPMU manufacturing industry organiser Louisa Jones says Unilever is sending work to Australia.
“This has been in the works for a while, so at least it isn’t a shock to our members,” Ms Jones said.
“But it’s really disappointing to see more work getting sent off shore,” she said.
“For some of our members, this is the only job they’ve ever had. We’re optimistic that they’ll be able to find work elsewhere because they are skilled, but it’s never good to be out of work, especially in the current economic climate.”
Unilever is now undertaking consultation with workers on its proposal to close the factory.
“The manufacturing sector is still under huge pressure due to the high exchange rate and lack of investment,” Ms Jones said.
“We believe these jobs could have been saved if the government took an active approach to supporting our manufacturers and exporters.”
The Parliamentary Inquiry into Manufacturing, which was convened by Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First and Mana parties, made 11 recommendations for the government to support the manufacturing industry, the EPMU pointed out.
But none of these had been implemented.
EPMU and SFWU members at Unilever would receive a redundancy package under their collective agreement.