Hillside workers sent home

WILMA MCCORKINDALE
Last updated 15:08 03/12/2012

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Workers at Dunedin's Hillside Engineering Workshops have been sent home for the day.

This morning they were told sale of the plant to Australian engineering giant Bradken was confirmed and the plant in its current form is to be decommissioned.

New Zealand Rail and Maritime Union organiser John Kerr said 90 workers received the news they would lose their jobs at an 11 am meeting and that they were not required for the rest of today.

The first wave of around 30 staff would be sent home permanently on December 7, the second on December 21, Kerr said.

The remainder would be kept on until the new year to carry out the decommissioning, he said.

KIWIRAIL LOOKS BEYOND HILLSIDE

KiwiRail is canvassing  staff nationwide for potential redundancies to keep jobless Dunedin railway workshops employees in work.

In a media statement confirming the state-owned corporation's sale of the city's historic Hillside Engineering Workshops yesterday, and the associated loss of jobs, KiwiRail said it had widened an offer of voluntary redundancy to KiwiRail staff across the country whose positions were consistent with those at Hillside.

''We are seeking expressions of interest in this option and any positions will be ringfenced for applications from Hillside staff,'' the statement said.

At the same time KiwiRail was continuing to accept voluntary redundancy applications from Hillside staff who do not wish to pursue redeployment, it said.

KiwiRail is shutting down Hillside, having laid off 140 workers last July during what it said was tight times, and now a further 90 workers would progressively lose their jobs by January in the wake of the plant's sale top Australian engineering giant Bradken.

The new owner would keep Hillside's foundry operating, retaining 18 workers in the division. Seven would be employed to operate the KiwiRail Freight heavy lift facility. The vacancies would be ringfenced for Hillside staff. 

Kiwirail said 30 staff would go on special paid leave from December 7 and another 35 from December 21.

''This will give them an opportunity to continue to pursue redeployment opportunities within KiwiRail until the redundancy date,  January 31, 2013.''

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- The Southland Times

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