Proposed restructuring of New Zealand's Southern Cross Forest Products Thames Timber following sale to Profiles Woodproducts has 'dampened' news of sale, says union; new owner expects to reduce operations to one shift from two, halving workforce

AUCKLAND, New Zealand , June 25, 2014 (press release) – The announcement this afternoon that Southern Cross Forest Products Thames Timber Ltd (Thames Timber) will be sold to Profiles Woodproducts Limited has been dampened by an announced concurrent restructuring, says the union representing workers in the wood sector.

Southern Cross has been in receivership since 3 March this year and scores of workers have already lost their jobs in the Otago/Southland mills.

It is understood that the restructuring process will reduce the number of jobs from the current 142 to around 70-80, as the new owner reduces its operations from two shifts to one.

Southern Cross will exit the mill on 18 July and workers will be paid out all wages and holiday pay as preferential creditors, however they will have to apply for positions with the new company and just under half of those workers will lose out.

“Those losing their jobs will be further hit by the fact that their employment agreements do not include a redundancy clause, leaving many of these workers out in the cold,” said FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid.

“The loss of 60-70 jobs in the region will add to the over 3000 jobs losses we’ve seen in the wood processing sector since 2008,” said Reid.

“This downsizing reflects the ongoing impact of the high NZ dollar and the desperate need for a national wood procurement strategy that keeps kiwis in work. The current government still has its head in the sand and has presided over the destruction of NZ’s wood processing industry during its six years in power.”

FIRST Union National Wood Sector Secretary, Rawiri Daniels, has spent the day onsite with workers and management.

“Workers are shocked at the news and feel frustrated they have to compete against their workmates to keep their jobs,” said Daniels.

“There remain few employment prospects in Thames and the community will feel the effects of this restructuring.”

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