Jobs lost in Thames mill sale

Last updated 18:16 26/06/2014

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Around 60 to 70 jobs are expected to go with the sale of a Thames wood mill, according to the union representing some of its workers.

First Union says Southern Cross Forest Products Thames Timber will be sold to Profiles Woodproducts, which will reduce the workload from two shifts to one.

Its parent Southern Cross Forest Products has been in receivership since March, resulting in large jobs losses in Otago and Southland.

First Union said it was told the restructuring process will reduce the number of jobs from the current 142 to around 70 to 80, when Southern Cross exits the mill on July 18.

It was made worse by the fact that many employees did not have redundancy clauses in their contracts, said union secretary Robert Reid.

‘‘We have a number of members there but it was always lowly unionised.’’ 

Workers would become preferential creditors for outstanding wages and holiday pay and would have to reapply for their jobs.

First Union National Wood Sector Secretary Rawiri Daniels said workers were shocked at the news.

‘‘There remain few employment prospects in Thames and the community will feel the effects of this restructuring.’’  

The union blames the ongoing strength of the high New Zealand dollar and the lack of domestic wood demand for the loss of more than 3000 wood processing jobs since 2008.

About 40 mills are thought to have closed in the last six years, a result of high export prices for logs and competition from low-cost Chinese rivals.

However, according to media reports, the new owner of the Thames mill, Profiles Woodproducts, saved up to 50 jobs in 2012 when it bought a Carter Holt Harvey timber plant, Rotorua Profiles.

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