Engineering firm blames delay for job cuts

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 05:00 03/04/2012

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Brightwater Engineering is looking at cutting up to 40 jobs due to delays to work starting on a proposed new West Coast coalmine and a lack of other work.

The job cuts will affect Brightwater Group's major project division, Brightwater Engineering, which employs more than 150 people.

Brightwater Group chief executive Chris Ellis said staff were told about the restructuring yesterday and the cuts would mainly be made at the Brightwater office. A small number of Auckland staff would be affected.

The cuts would not affect Brightwater's Services Division, which carries out plant maintenance, or its Australian operations. Brightwater Engineering would still keep its substantial project capacity, he said.

The Brightwater Group provides engineering solutions to Australasia's natural resources, renewable energy, quarry, minerals, wood and forestry sectors.

Ellis said the main factor behind the decision to downsize was the ongoing delay to Buller Coal's plans to mine for coal on the Denniston Plateau on the West Coast.

The project has drawn strong opposition by environmentalists.

Ellis said consents were granted for the project last August, but appeals had been lodged and the uncertainty was delaying Brightwater involvement.

"We have delayed this decision as long as we can, but the resource consent appeals process is becoming protracted and unfortunately it is now going to cost jobs," Ellis said.

"It is a major loss which will be felt particularly in our Nelson engineering base where we have a highly skilled and experienced workforce with a great track record."

There was no other jobs around to replace the Buller Coal job.

Breaking the news to staff was difficult, he said. The company was looking for a response from staff by the end of the week on where it could reduce costs, and the redundancy process would take a few weeks.

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