As unemployment is again on the rise, a recent wave of actual or potential job losses has a union with members in textiles, wood and food processing calling for the government to own up to the problem facing our manufacturing industries and the workers within them.
Unemployment has risen by 9,000 to 160,000 people, Statistics NZ reported this morning. Unemployment among women is up, driving the increase.
"Industries like textiles, wood should be filling export orders, firing up to meet the needs of the Canterbury rebuild and creating jobs, but the opposite is happening as a government sits on its hands without any plan for jobs," FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said.
"Our own union is currently dealing with actual and possible redundancies of almost 100 workers at carpet and yarn mills in Auckland, Whanganui and Oamaru.
"Redundancies in wood continue with the proposed closure and loss of 31 jobs at the Dunedin City Council owned sawmill in Milburn and more possible job losses in the central North Island.
"In the food manufacturing sector, 20 jobs are being lost at a pork processing plant in Hamilton this week.
"These industries are facing a punishing high dollar and are unable to fill orders that they have given the price of the NZD. Governments do have options. We have an unhealthy acceptance that the high dollar is something we can do nothing about, but this is not the case."
"A refusal to target speculative cash washing in and out of New Zealand means that our manufacturing industries, which employ hundreds of thousands of workers, are being forced to play roulette with overseas currency traders overseas and losing."
"The government has also refused to discuss the lowering of the domestic log price to enable wood processors to manufacture in New Zealand, seemingly content with us just shipping off boatloads of unprocessed logs - for all the value added gain to be realised in other countries."
Robert Reid said that these job losses, together with the uncertainty faced by Hillside workers in Dunedin following the sale announcement two weeks ago demonstrates that New Zealand desperately needs to follow the lead of many others countries and have government procurement arrangements that encourage domestic industries and jobs.
"There are no pro-job growth strategies coming from Government. Even the token support for jobs coming from the 2009 Job Summit, such as the nine day fortnight, has gone. And the Government itself is contributing to job loss by laying off hundreds of public servants.
"These austerity policies are a recipe for disaster and we fear the job massacre will continue through winter," Robert Reid said.
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