12 more jobs to go at carpet mill

By Christine McKay

Four years after 10 staff lost their jobs, more staff at Dannevirke's only carpet mill are facing the prospect of having the rug pulled out from under them.

Staff at Godfrey Hirst's Weber Rd mill have been told the company is looking for 12 redundancies at the plant which employs 102 people on four shifts.

Staff were given the news at two shift meetings on Monday and Tuesday this week and have until 4pm today to decide. The company will then decide on who will go and who will stay and announce their final decision in a couple of weeks time.

The news has come as a blow, not only to staff, but to Tararua Mayor Roly Ellis.

Mr Ellis said he's only heard, through the back door, and was angry Godfrey Hirst management hadn't contacted him.

"I know it's probably all part of the worldwide recession, but Dannevirke doesn't need this sort of thing at the moment," he said.

"Sadly, market forces dictate, but I would have liked someone from the company to have approached the council."

A source has told the Dannevirke News that if the Christchurch earthquake hadn't happened, forcing the closure of that city's Canterbury Spinners, a subsidiary of Godfrey Hirst, then Dannevirke's semi-worsted mill would have likely closed by now.

"People aren't buying wool carpets like they did and now there's more of a market for synthetics and I don't see wool carpets making a big comeback. You can understand why Godfrey Hirst management are having to constantly review the future," a First Union spokesperson said. "We've been working with the company to consider voluntary redundancies first, but at the end of the day, they'll make their decision on the skill balance they need at the plant."

Mr Ellis said the last news he'd heard from the company was that they'd taken on a few extra staff, so he was surprised by the recent development.

"Ironically, I'm on my way to Wellington to talk about economic development, but I'll be asking a few hard questions of Godfrey Hirst when I return to Dannevirke," he said. "It's an emotional time for staff at the plant. This is 12 people who are facing the loss of their jobs and 12 families affected in our community."

A spokesman for Godfrey Hirst has confirmed that up to 12 redundancies are being asked for at its Dannevirke plant.

"The economic climate remains challenging so the company has had to look at staffing numbers," he said.

Asked about the future prospects for the company, the spokesman said it was dependent on the future of the world economy.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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