Appeal to businesses to help keep Fitzroy staff

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2014

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New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young wants to create a bubble of opportunity in Taranaki to find work for Fitzroy Yachts staff when the boat building company closes.

The super yacht builder announced on Thursday it was closing at the end of February, which would leave 120 highly qualified staff out of work.

Mr Young says he wants to see their talent and skills kept in Taranaki and has sent letters to businesses in the province encouraging them to help out and asking them to consider bringing forward projects they had for later in the year to March or April.

"This would help the transition for these people who are going to finish work at the end of February at Fitzroy Yachts."

In the letter Mr Young said advancing projects was what the Government did with a number of highway projects when recession hit New Zealand in 2008 and 2009.

It enabled people to stay in work and protected jobs, incomes and family stability in uncertain times.

Mr Young admits it was going to be hard - likening it to herding cats. "But I think if anybody can do it Taranaki can."

About 90 of the yacht builders had families, he said.

"So it's not as if they can pick up and go somewhere else that easily. And it is right at the beginning of the school year when there are a lot of expenses for families and I just can imagine a lot of pressure coming on households."

Helping to find the yacht builders jobs is the sort of thing the community can do to smooth the bumps.

"I've been talking to [Fitzroy Yachts managing director] Rodney Martin and we're just trying to work with them to ensure the transition is as positive as possible for everybody."

It's a time where there is a lot of uncertainty and people panic a little bit, he said.

"Fitzroy Yachts staff are probably some of the most skilled workers in the country around engineering, electrical, certainly around fitting out a yacht - that's joinery - and we want to retain, in Taranaki, that level of excellence."

And Mr Young is not just targeting the manufacturing and oil and gas industries. He is also looking at other processing plants and dairy farmers who may have planned to upgrade their plants, but may be waiting until the middle of the year.

"If they brought projects forward a few months or so it would create a microbubble of opportunity. It means that people won't be so uncertain.

"It means the project at Fitzroy can be completed and people can have a sense that after that there is a job to go to. That's what we want to see happen."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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