The Green Party is blaming KiwiRail’s budget cuts on the Government’s lack of investment in rail and calls it a ‘kick in the guts’ for public transport.
And it is a view echoed by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU), who says the Government is responsible for more job losses than they are creating.
This morning it was revealed that KiwiRail has to save $200 million over the next three years and up to 220 jobs may be axed to achieve it.
“One Government department will lay off workers and create a legacy of poor quality infrastructure while another Government department will have to step in and pay benefits to workers that lose their jobs – it simply does not make economic or social sense,” says NZCTU president Helen Kelly.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says KiwiRail wouldn’t have to make the cuts if the Government invested seriously in the state-owned company.
“The blame for these job losses can be laid squarely on National’s 1950s-era transport policy and its failure to invest in a modern rail network,” says Dr Norman.
“National has never displayed any commitment to KiwiRail. It has under-invested in rail upgrades and let valuable rolling stock contracts go offshore,” said Dr Norman.
He says the Government is investing in “low and negative value” motorways which will leave New Zealand lacking modern, clean transport alternatives.
“Today’s move is another kick in the guts for workers and sustainable transport from the National Government…Rail is a central component to a smart, green economy. It is core infrastructure for our future prosperity,” he says.
“An enhanced rail network would create jobs, reduce our carbon emissions, and help to wean New Zealand of its $8 billion a year addiction to imported oil.”