More redundancies at yacht firm

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 05:00 15/03/2014
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ANDY JACKSON

Better times: Fitzroy Yachts, Ohana.

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Twenty more Fitzroy Yachts staff were given their marching orders this week while the remaining crew continues work towards a superyacht launch that will signal the end of the iconic Taranaki firm.

The redundancy notice was presented to staff members just nine working days before their final day of work, which would be Saturday, March 22, the current date set for the launch of the company's final build, the 37-metre Escapade, code named FY17.

Staff members made redundant on Tuesday said morale was low at the workshop.

"After Tuesday there's not going to be too much work done in the next few weeks," said one worker, who did not wish to be named.

Many Fitzroy Yachts staff members, which numbered about 120 in January, had left already.

Some said they had not found new jobs, but had had "a gutsful."

Others had stayed on, saying the sense of pride in seeing a Fitzroy yacht launched made it all worth it.

"I want to see the project through," one staff member said.

FY17 is being built for Swiss national Christophe Albin, who is believed to have bought Fitzroy Yachts from former New Plymouth man Peter White-Robinson.

Albin lives in Malaysia and is the executive chairman and majority owner of electronics company Escatec, which was founded in 1974.

On the Supporting Fitzroy Yachts Workers Facebook page, worker Darren Bussey commented that he had come to the company from Napier about nine months ago.

"I came to settle, to do interesting work, to be a part of something nice. I turned down a higher paid position to come here, I was told ‘overtime aplenty' and lots of boats in the pipeline."

He said he felt frustrated and tricked.

Another staff member was taken on as an apprentice in December, just before managing director Rodney Martin announced the closure of the company's boat building operation on January 16.

The redundancy letter received by some staff members on Tuesday mentioned the possibility that more work would become available if the boat was not finished on time.

"As you are aware, due to the nature of boatbuilding, we may ask you to extend your notice period in the event we do not achieve our current scheduled 22 March launch date."

Staff that had signed an incentive contract and a commissioning crew would be kept on until the boat was completed.

The incentive contract stipulated staff would be given a week's notice of redundancy and would be paid an extra $5 an hour if they worked 55 hours per-week.

Another $10 an hour would be put aside for staff who worked 55-hour weeks, which would be paid out if the boat was finished on March 22.

"There's no way this will happen," one worker said.

The redundancy notice said reasonable time would be given to staff to attend interviews for other jobs. There were still 24 staff listed as ‘available' yesterday on website weneedwork.co.nz, which was set up to advertise Fitzroy Yachts staff looking for jobs.

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