15 Jul 2011

Picket at port against foreign rail wagons

9:05 am on 15 July 2011

KiwiRail employees are to unload imported rail wagons at the Port of Tauranga.

Members of the Rail & Maritime Union were picketing at the Port campaigning on Friday morning against a decision by the company to have the wagons built in China.

The union said it was disappointed that KiwiRail had contractors unpacking the Chinese shipment on Friday morning, when on Thursday it promised to let its own employees fo the work.

A meeting has now been held at the port and KiwiRail employees will now do the job instead.

A ship carrying 120 rail wagons arrived at the Port of Tauranga on Thursday night.

KiwiRail says it would cost about $36 million to build the wagons in New Zealand compared with $29 million to buy them from China.

The company announced on Wednesday there will be between 40 - 45 redundancies at the Hillside workshop in Dunedin.

KiwiRail defends imports

KiwiRail is defending its decision to have 500 rail wagons built in China, rather than in New Zealand

Chief executive Jim Quinn told Morning Report that while he understands the employees are concerned, the cost saving in the long term is essential.

Mr Quinn said the cost of getting work done in New Zealand, rather than China, is 25% more expensive.

He said KiwiRail has a very tight budget and it needs to be as competitive as possible, even if that means getting work done overseas.