Timber workers' jobs go as mill cuts shifts

LOSSES: 60 jobs will go at Southern Cross Forest Products Kopu site near Thames.
LOSSES: 60 jobs will go at Southern Cross Forest Products Kopu site near Thames.

Timber workers who were among the 60 to lose their jobs as a Thames mill cuts shifts will meet with officials next week to find other work.

Southern Cross Forest Products has been in receivership since March this year and its entire Thames operation sold to Profiles Woodproducts Ltd, with settlement to occur on July 18, according to receivers KordaMentha.

Receiver spokesperson Brendon Gibson said Profiles Woodproducts is planning to reduce the current two shifts at Thames Timber Ltd's Kopu site to one, meaning up to 60 jobs could go.

"Unfortunately, any restructuring will result in redundancies for some of the workforce," Gibson said.

"While no staff are being given notice at this time, we wanted to ensure they were advised as early as possible."

"We have undertaken to support community initiatives designed to get workers made redundant back into employment," Gibson said.

Southern Cross Forest Products' South Island operations have also shed jobs, with receivers last month announcing the closure of its sawmill at Rosebank in Balclutha, with the loss of 79 jobs, while 100 at the company's Otago operation were also under threat.

Thames-Coromandel District Mayor Glenn Leach said the cuts would impact on the community but the council would do what it could to help those made redundant.

"It's distressing whether there are 10, 20 or 30 job losses. The town will survive, however the main impact will be on the workers and their families," Leach said.

"The council will support the families affected by this. The individual families are most important."

The council has offered the services of its community development officer, Marlene Perry, to liaise with staff, to ensure they have as smooth a transition as possible. "Work and Income are working primarily with Thames Timber Ltd, they have set up a network partnership with Thames-Coromandel District Council," Perry said.

"Next week, Work and Income New Zealand will be having one-to-one meetings with employees; some of the employees will be given a chance to work on the one remaining shift."

The council would like to keep the workers made redundant in employment, ideally within the local community. "Every worker that can stay in Thames, means a family can stay in Thames and that is good for the community. They're good, hard working people."

The council is looking at its suppliers and contractors for job opportunities.

Waikato Times