In Focus

EPMU calls summit to tackle job crisis

Wednesday October 10, 2012

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing will hold an urgent summit on Friday aimed at tackling the jobs crisis and building a future for manufacturing in New Zealand.


The Jobs Crisis Summit comes in response to the string of high profile redundancies over recent months and the emergence of a ‘trades drain' to Australia as record numbers of Kiwis cross the Tasman looking for work.


The summit will bring together businesses, unions, economists and political parties to look at what practical steps the Government can take to stem the flow of job losses and support high value manufacturing.


The political panel will feature Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, Labour's finance spokesperson David Parker and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.


The business panel will feature Peter Conway from the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Nick Inskip from the Heavy Engineering Research Association, technology entrepreneur Selwyn Pellett, John Walley from the New Zealand Manufacturers & Exporters Association, and Hugh Whitaker of the University of Auckland.


EPMU national secretary Bill Newson says the summit is a sign of the emerging consensus that the Government needs to take a more active role in the economy.

"No one who has seen the mass redundancies of recent months or the numbers of Kiwis heading to Australia can be unaware of the deepening jobs crisis in this country and the need for a new approach.


"Every day we're seeing redundancies and the impact these have on communities all over New Zealand. At the same time we're talking to employers who tell us they don't want to lay people off and are looking for any support they can get to keep people in jobs.


"The common thread through all of these redundancies is the hands-off approach of the last 30 years, which says the Government should keep out of the economy, leave our exchange rate to be set by speculators and accept the decline of manufacturing in this country as somehow inevitable.


"Our union is part of a growing consensus that the hands-off approach to the economy is broken and we need the Government to step up and support our manufacturing sector and the jobs it provides.


"There are alternatives, and as a country we need to discuss them. This summit is about bringing together the new consensus and we welcome anyone interested in the future of our country to join us in planning a new way forward."


Since 2008 nearly 40,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost to the economy.


Workplaces hit by mass redundancies in recent months include Solid Energy's Spring Creek and Huntly East mines, Norske Skog's paper mill in Kawerau, the Tiwai Point aluminimum smelter, Axiam Metals, Nuplex Industries, Flotech, Summit Wool Spinners, Goulds Fine Foods, Fisher & Paykel Appliances, Kiwirail and the Christchurch Engine Centre.