40 engineering jobs at risk in Christchurch

Last updated 14:34 05/10/2012

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Up to 40 jobs could go at a Christchurch aircraft engine servicing company part-owned by Air New Zealand, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) says.

The Christchurch Engine Centre, a joint venture between Government-controlled Air NZ and United States-based aircraft engine producer Pratt & Whitney, maintains several engine types for airlines and is based at Christchurch airport.

EPMU assistant director of organising Strachan Crang said the company was getting out of one of its engine lines because it had become obsolete. The company services planes from around the world and its earnings had been hit by the strong Kiwi dollar, he said.

Because of that, the company had proposed a restructuring plan which could mean up to 40 people will be laid off, he said. The potential losses were another sign of an on-going jobs crisis, he said.

''These are good jobs, on high rates of pay, involving skilled people doing very specialised work that brings in export dollars. It's exactly the kind of work New Zealand needs to get ahead and it would be a real blow to see these jobs go.''

Redundant engineers would probably look for jobs overseas, particularly in Australia, and history has shown it would be difficult to entice them back, he said.

Aviation and Marine Engineers Association national industrial organiser Penny Dillimore said the two unions will work together to try protect as many jobs as possible while ensuring the viability of the business.

''We're well aware of the competitive challenges facing the industry and the management have been very open with us about the state of the business,'' she said.

The unions, management and employees would now go to consultation over the proposal with a final decision expected in about a month.

More to come

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- BusinessDay.co.nz


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