Cutbacks at Tenix prompt jobs warning

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2014

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Fifteen workers have lost their jobs at New Plymouth's heavy engineering firm Tenix and a union boss says the short-term engineering future looks shaky in the province.

The Australian-owned firm announced the redundancies to staff on Thursday.

The latest job losses come close on the heels of the recent announcement that 120 workers would be looking for jobs when Fitzroy Yachts closes its doors at the end of February.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union organiser Ross Henderson said the chance for work for the tradesmen, such as welders and fitters, within Taranaki was not looking good.

"I wouldn't be holding my breath at the moment. I don't know of any engineering firms flat out and screaming out for more workers.

"It's a very much up and down state of affairs in the region."

Things were rosy with the big plant start-up at Methanex but this was now all completed.

The hope was that there would soon be a major oil and gas find to ensure there were sufficient jobs for the "black trades", Mr Henderson said.

"So the apparent buoyant economy in Taranaki the Government is talking about I don't see in my work," he said.

Long-term investment was sorely needed in Taranaki to stabilise the province's boom-bust economy, he said.

Fitzroy Yachts had gone and the Government had accepted a Bangladeshi contract for a ferry rather than support the New Zealand workforce, Mr Henderson said.

While Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce did not speak to the Taranaki Daily News, a spokesman said about 250,000 jobs were created and lost every year in New Zealand as the commercial circumstances of individual companies change.

"The Government invests more than $200 million a year in encouraging innovation and export growth in our hi-tech and medium hi-tech manufacturing firms across the country, including Taranaki companies," the spokesman said.

One of the Tenix workers down the road after 20 years in the job, driver Huck Tamehana, 51, is shocked to be without a job.

The full impact of not having a job hit him on Friday.

"I'm usually up at 6, read my paper, then start work. But then I remembered I'm unemployed."

Shop steward Michael Hill believed the redundancies were because of restructuring and the downturn in work.

"It's a pity to see this happen to local industry," Mr Hill said, saying it came at a time Taranaki was being held out as the model for the country's economic prosperity.

"If this is the model it's not a very good example," Mr Hill said.

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