Fletcher staff may be relocated - King

Last updated 10:19 18/11/2008

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LATEST: Fletcher Building may be able to relocate staff from its Plyco Select factory in Auckland's Penrose suburb as it moves to close the business.

Fletcher’s general manager for investor relations, Philip King, said this afternoon the building materials manufacturer and distributor was looking at whether parts of the interior and entrance door maker could be consolidated elsewhere within its operations.

“No final decisions have been taken,” King added.

His comments follow those this morning from the National Distribution Union. Its president Robert Reid said Fletcher was closing the Plyco factory with the loss of more than 80 jobs.

More broadly Reid said the new government must "urgently" address job losses in the wood industry.

"Just a few hours before the new cabinet was announced over 80 workers at the Fletcher Building owned Plyco Select plant in Penrose were told the company was closing their plant and ceasing production in December," he said.

"This follows hard on the heels of last week's announcement that 30 workers will lose their jobs when Fletcher Building drops two shifts at its New Zealand Laminex plant in John Key's Helensville electorate."

Reid said this meant Fletcher had laid off more than 700 staff so far this year with Carter Holt Harvey set to make more than 300 workers redundant when it closes mills at Putaruru and Maunganui in December.

Meanwhile, in a note to clients share broker Forsyth Barr's head of research Rob Mercer pointed out Plyco got only a one line mention in a Fletcher building products presentation earlier this year.

"Clearly Fletcher has decided that closing Plyco, releasing the capital in the business (which may include the buildings) will add more value than operating it," Mercer said.

"The announcement is immaterial [for Fletcher]."

Reid said, however, there had also been smaller groups of layoffs at another half a dozen mills and other wood and pulp and paper mills were cutting hours of work, the working week or undertaking temporary closures. He said the wood industry was being hit by a domestic and international downturn in the house construction industry and an oversupply of pulp and paper.

"The government was elected on a platform of taking proactive action around business closures and redundancies. There is no better place for it to start than the wood industry," Reid added.


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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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