Bic calls time on NZ pen-making
Bic is planning to stop making pens in New Zealand and import them from South Africa instead, it has told workers at its Auckland factory.
EPMU manufacturing industry organiser Louisa Jones said the company has said it would now enter a one-week consultation period but it was likely about 19 of the 25 staff would lose their jobs by early next year.
Six workers were likely to be retained.
Bic said in a written statement that it would continue with its other operations in Auckland, including sales operations, warehousing and logistics, and support services, including finance and customer services.
It refused to answer direct questions on its proposal to cease making pens in Auckland. It said the proposal would be finalised by the end of the month.
Jones said the proposed closure would have a huge impact on staff, many of whom had worked at the factory for decades. One woman would celebrate her 40th anniversary with the company on Friday.
"Most workers at Bic are long-serving and they have been incredibly loyal and dedicated, so this is a real shock for them," she said.
"It's going to be very hard to find similar work given the state the manufacturing sector is in. Over the last four years, 40,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared and we know from experience that many of these workers have ended up in low-paid, insecure service jobs."
Bic said its decision, made after several months of evaluating the New Zealand business, had been difficult. The operation's viability had come under pressure due to rising manufacturing costs.
"We understand this is a difficult time for our staff and apologise for any distress caused. We are committed to supporting our staff throughout this process," Peter Travers, Bic general manager, Oceania, said.
Jones said the workers were covered by an industry collective agreement that provided for up to 12 weeks redundancy, but the union would try to negotiate for more weeks for longer-serving staff.
"These are the people who have made Bic's product and built its brand in New Zealand over the last four decades, and they deserve to be treated right," she said.
Jones said the company had said labour costs were too high in New Zealand compared to South Africa and research with customers had shown they didn't care about the slight differences between the Click pen made here and the one made in South Africa.
Bic has operated in New Zealand since 1956. Worldwide it employs more than 8500 people and is a leader in the stationery, light and shaver markets.
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