Slowdown behind job losses

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 03/09/2014

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Employees who lost their jobs at Taranaki engineering business ITL this week are the latest casualties of a slowdown across the industry.

The company's operations director, Kim Gilkison, said "about 20" people lost their jobs on Monday following a restructure.

She said the business had never been through cuts before and the losses were "an awful thing for any company to go through".

"We regret losing so many valuable people. We will miss them," she said.

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Gilkison said oil and gas contracts made up a reasonable amount of the work ITL did and while they still held them the volume of work had slowed.

"There's been quite a big change in industry spend," she told the Taranaki Daily News yesterday.

The company had downsized in order to meet market conditions but Gilkison said she expected the workload to come back around in the coming years.

ITL, which was founded in 1988 and sold to Australian company LogiCamms for about $16 million last year, will continue to employ 125 people.

Earlier this year Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce claimed Taranaki was one of, if not the leading region in the country but that is now being questioned.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union organiser Ross Henderson said the ITL job cuts were the latest in a long list across the region.

Just this year the Taranaki Daily News has reported 15 job cuts at Tenix, 120 at Fitzroy Yachts and 28 at Fitzroy Engineering.

When you looked back further there had been more.

"There's been more than 300 job losses in the engineering and fabrication sector in this province. It's likely there's more to come," Henderson said.

The oil and gas industry was either "boom or bust," he said.

"When they come to a halt, they come to a shuddering halt. It's not looking promising."

Henderson said the EPMU was not involved with ITL but engineering companies they were linked to were looking at opportunities outside the region and overseas to keep employees on the job.

Workforce statistics released last month showed the number of people employed in the region had dropped by roughly 1100 in the year to June 2014.

MP Jonathan Young said that had to do with the "cyclical" nature of the engineering industry.

Yesterday, Young said work slowed when companies in the energy industry were not demanding high-level maintenance or re-builds.

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Labour MP Andrew Little said the job losses were worrying.

"They reflect not only the fact that the oil and gas sector in the region is stabilising but that the regional economy is continuing to shrink," he said.

"Output for Taranaki has fallen successively for the last three years."

- Taranaki Daily News

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