Workers battle after jobs axed
Just 32 people still have jobs at the Canterbury Spinners Ltd (CSL) plant in Dannevirke, and even they have not come out of the company restructure unscathed.
In July, CSL announced it would shut down part of its Dannevirke factory, with the company scaling back business as the textile industry faces tough times.
The move was made as CSL's parent company Godfrey Hirst battled low demand for woollen carpets.
The proposal by CSL was to cut more than 50 staff and shake up shifts for those who were left.
It indicated 35 staff would still have jobs.
First Union representative Dion Martin said 32 staff were left at the plant, and their shifts had been rearranged.
They used to work four days on then four days off - 12 hours per day - but shift rearrangements had seen hours chopped back and the plant closed on weekends.
That has seen workers' pays shrink, but they were at least still employed, Mr Martin said.
"The thing is, they are really lucky they are there and fortunate to have a job."
CSL had been working with laid-off staff during the redundancy process, bringing in counsellors and offering support to help with job hunting.
Former employees were able to visit the factory, where CSL had put up a board advertising jobs at other businesses in the region, Mr Martin said. But it was still difficult times for those laid off.
"People have worked at that factory for 20 or 30 years, and it was a fairly stable job for them.
"Where do you find 53 fulltime jobs in Dannevirke, and at a rate of pay that isn't a big cut?"
Having a long period between announcing the changes and things being implemented had helped soften the blow, he said. "In many ways, by the last day people had gone through the grieving. Some people managed to exit early due to finding other work in the region, and the others knew what was coming."
Mr Martin said the writing had been on the wall for the factory for some time, and cuts would have come earlier had the sister plant in Canterbury not been closed due to earthquake damage.
That saw staff moved from Canterbury to Dannevirke in 2011.
Building consents in the past 10 years had nosedived by 20,000, which could have contributed to Godfrey Hirst's New Zealand arm - Avon Pacific Holdings - seeing its profits more than halve.
The Dannevirke plant is not the only one to go through change.
Norman Ellison Carpet closed its plant last year, costing about 85 jobs, and 190 people were made redundant after Summit Wool Spinners in Oamaru shut earlier this year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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