Tiwai redundancy deal settled

New Zealand Aluminium Smelters has finalised its redundancy proposal for workers at the Tiwai Point smelter.

Yesterday, NZAS general manager Ryan Cavanagh confirmed that plans to resize the business would be brought forward, with 65 jobs going before the end of next month.

NZAS had planned to shed 100 jobs during a five-year period through natural attrition, 35 of which have already gone.

He said workers now knew where they stood financially if they took voluntary or forced redundancy.

An NZAS final decision document, dated October 16, outlines redundancy compensation.

It says the total weeks of redundancy payment would be capped at 56 weeks, rather than the previously proposed 52 weeks.

The redundancy benefits would apply for any scenarios from now until one year following the divestment from Rio Tinto, the document says.

Mr Cavanagh said the clause had been included because of concern from staff about what would happen when new owners took over the business.

"It gives staff certainty that new owners can't come in and suddenly make everyone redundant."

The proposal was part of a plan to streamline operations at the plant in difficult economic conditions to help return the smelter to viability, he said.

Other separate restructuring work was still on going, where management would design a "future state", Mr Cavanagh said.

Workers would then find out who was included and who had been disestablished.

He said there had been consultation with employees in relation to potential restructure options that included voluntary redundancies, redeployment to other roles within NZAS or the wider Rio Tinto group and forced redundancies, if necessary.

"We have been consulting with our employees since September's initial restructuring announcement. Part of the consultation process included inviting and considering feedback. This has been a very important part of the process and has now been completed," he said.

If workers chose to be redeployed and could not be matched with a comparable role by the end of next month, forced redundancies would come into play, Mr Cavanagh said.

"We started feedback sessions this morning and we are gradually getting through all of the teams as per their shift roster."

He said good questions had been asked and he believed workers felt well informed.

The Southland Times