Axed miners to protest at Parliament
Mon, 24 Sep 2012 11:01p.m.
By Laura Frykberg
Hundreds of workers got the news they had been dreading today when Solid Energy cut more than 200 jobs, NZ Rail more than 150, and Nuplex 80.
It has caused anger among communities as well as unions, and tomorrow workers from the Spring Creek mine on the West Coast – where staff was cut from 254 to just 30 - plan to protest in Wellington.
The redundancies follow Solid Energy restructuring its entire business model as the price of coal plummets on the international market.
“We're absolutely gutted down here on the West Coast, we always expected this outcome but we held in there with the unions,” says Greymouth mayor Tony Kokshorn.
KiwiRail workers based in Auckland were the first to hear about job losses, but the union says it'll be provincial New Zealand bearing the brunt of the cuts.
“The Taihapes, The Taumaranuis, the Whanganuis; all of those small type - it's those small areas that are really going to hurt,” says Rail and Maritime Union general secretary Wayne Butson.
Mr Butson says workers are paying the price for a lack of investment, but KiwiRail says hundreds of millions of dollars is being put in over three years and rejects the claim cutting staff will compromise safety on its 4,000km network.
“We absolutely understand our responsibility as a company and safety underpins everything we do,” says KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn.
More than 70 KiwiRail staff are taking voluntary severance, but back in Greymouth Spring Creek workers' frustration was clear.
Workers there have two more weeks of salary, then redundancy payments.
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