7 Jun 2012

Wool processor cuts jobs

12:45 pm on 7 June 2012

Summit Wool Spinners is to cut 49 positions at its Oamaru mill, as it battles difficult international trading conditions.

The South Island company employs about 250 people and produces yarn, mainly for carpets, which are sent to the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Summit called for voluntary redundancies earlier this year, following a downturn in orders, which it puts down to increased competition from synthetics, and the erosion of export returns by the high New Zealand dollar.

Production manager Phillip Howe says the company regrets the redundancies, most of which were voluntary.

He says the four shifts at the mill have also been reduced to three 12-hour shifts.

The Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union and FIRST union have been working with Summit to negotiate the changes by way of a new collective agreement.

EPMU organiser John Gardner hopes the changes will help the company to work through the current economic challenges.

He says it's a very stressful time for all the workers and for those people who no longer have jobs it has been heart wrenching.

"But under the circumstances the union and the company have worked together constructively to make the best out of a bad situation and the hope is the orders will improve and at some stage in the future we can go back to four 12-hour shifts".

Further comment

FIRST says the job losses won't be the last if the Government doesn't step in to control a high New Zealand dollar.

The union says the redundancies are reflective of the difficulty manufacturers are facing across the country.

Textiles secretary Paul Watson says the industry can't stabilise while the New Zealand dollar is so high and Government action is needed.

''As long as the Government sits on its hands ... this will continue to happen,'' he said.