Shannon fellmongery workers 'not commodities' - Labour
Labour leader David Cunliffe has announced a plan to keep workers in provincial areas, based around using locals' ideas to develop new job opportunities.
Speaking at the Shannon fire station today, which is being used as a support centre for the 86 workers laid off from the nearby fellmongery, Mr Cunliffe said a Labour government would establish a community task force whenever a big employer fell over in provincial New Zealand.
The force would be made up of affected workers, businesses, and local councillors, and would work with the government to create employment in the area.
''Rather than Wellington turning up and telling you how to do it, we can make sure some of those folks from Wellington come and stand alongside [them], as I am, and try to work on some solutions.''
The government had the biggest budget in the country behind it, and could help finance new ideas, he said.
Mr Cunliffe did not say how much money would be invested each time, saying it would be done on a case-by-case basis.
He said he would rather not have businesses shut down, but the task forces would help keep people in the provinces instead of having people move to the cities.
''People are not commodities. People are are not units of production to be shifted around a chess board.
''Let's solve the problems, let's keep people in the regions and not tell them to hollow out.''
Mr Cunliffe said economic development minister Steven Joyce had a ''hands off and hope'' approach, which was doing nothing for regions.
''It's based on the philosophy that the state has no role, or a very little role, in engineering economic growth.
''At least we are here talking to the people, listening to them and signalling up front that we want to work with them for a better future.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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