15 May 2009

NZ clothing manufacturer slashes 180 jobs

9:18 pm on 15 May 2009

Christchurch clothing manufacturer Lane Walker Rudkin has slashed 180 jobs without notice or any guarantee of redundancy and holiday pay.

In total, 384 people lost their jobs throughout New Zealand on Friday. Up to 60 Southland sawmill workers are for the chop, while 144 call centre positions in Palmerston North are to go.

Lane Walker Rudkin has axed 102 jobs at its Christchurch factory, 61 in Greytown, 19 in Pahiatua and four in Auckland.

The company was placed in receivership in April. It employs 470 people and also has plants in Timaru and Brisbane. The future of those sites is unclear.

Receivers BDO Spicers says Lane Walker Rudkin was unprofitable with high bank debt and there is no guarantee that workers will receive redundancy and holiday pay. This depends on debtors paying up and sale of the firm's stock.

The National Distribution Union on Friday blamed managers for the demise of the company.

Union delegate Jack Taylor, who has worked as a hand cutter at Lane Walker Rudkin for nearly 18 years, told Checkpoint workers are angry that "bad management" caused the company to fold.

Union national secretary Laila Harre told Checkpoint the situation is a bad as it gets and support systems need to be set up to help workers.

Ms Harre is calling on Westpac, which placed the company in receivership, and the Government to guarantee payments.

"These workers have been given absolutely no notice of the redundancy - it's only two weeks since the receivers were called in," she said.

"They have been told today in Christchurch and Greytown and yesterday in Pahiatua and that their jobs are finished now, so this is an urgent issue that the bank and the Government need to address."

Ms Harre said Westpac is not taking responsibility for what she called poor lending decisions.