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Ceremony for Hillside

WILMA MCCORKINDALE IN DUNEDIN
Last updated 13:07 21/12/2012
Southland Times photo
WILMA MCCORKINDALE/Fairfax NZ
NZ Rail and Maritime Union organiser John Kerr looks defeated at today's ceremony to mark the end of state owned Hillside Engineering Workshops.

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NZ Rail and Maritime Union organiser John Kerr looks defeated at today's ceremony to mark the end of state owned Hillside Engineering Workshops.

Kerr was among dozens workers, ex-workers, locals and dignitaries to gather on the historic plant's last day in Government ownership.

Wreaths were laid and emotional farewell speeches made. Simultaneously KiwiRail workers across the country stopped work for two minutes at 11am to mark the passing.

State corporation KiwiRail has sold the 130 year-old plant to Australian company Bradken, leaving Dunedin mourning the flow on effects of the resulting job losses. 

The New Zealand Rail and Maritime Union (RMTU) and Labour Opposition MPs made fresh vows this morning to have rail contract questions investigated, possibly through the Select Committee currently putting manufacturing under the microscope.

Last month union organiser John Kerr said the Government and the KiwiRail board stifled management efforts to source work for Hillside and workers had been stabbed in the back by a Government that was anti-rail.

Hillside was built in 1875, and the height of demand for its services about 1200 people worked at the 7ha complex.

In recent years KiwiRail has steadily decreased the amount of work it sends to the workshop, opting for overseas tenders to manufacture engines and rolling stock rather than accept bids from Hillside for such contracts.

In July last year 44 Hillside workers were made redundant, and in May this year KiwiRail put the complex up for sale, another 90 jobs going.

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- The Southland Times

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