Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Party leaders to run independent job crisis inquiry

Dr Norman said manufacturing had been 'decimated' under National's watch. Photo / Supplied
Dr Norman said manufacturing had been 'decimated' under National's watch. Photo / Supplied

Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First plan to run their own inquiry into the manufacturing sector in New Zealand.

The leaders of the three parties, David Shearer, Russel Norman and Winston Peters made the announcement today at the end of a "Jobs Crisis Summit" in Auckland run by the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union.

The Government blocked an inquiry on manufacturing by the finance and expenditure committee and so the Opposition decided to run an inquiry independently.

The summit, attended by more than 100 people including unionists and employers groups was focused on how to stop the decline of the manufacturing sector, which has lost 40,000 jobs in the past four years.

Dr Norman said manufacturing had been "decimated" under National's watch.

"We urgently need to turn that around," he said.

The committee will hold hearings in several cities in December and a report will be published in the new year.

FIRST Union general secretary Robert Reid said the inquiry would not bring back the thousands of jobs already lost but would draw attention to the crisis facing manufacturing.

"Manufacturers have been completely let down by successive governments' refusal to take any initiative in tackling our highly overvalued dollar.

"This has seen thousands of job losses for workers in the sector, including over 1000 job losses in wood processing in the past four years, and more still in textiles, two sectors where our union represents workers,'' Mr Reid said.

An inquiry should highlight the options governments had available to them and that they were not powerless to act, as National seemed resigned to.

His union would participate in the inquiry and he called on business representatives to take part.

EPMU national secretary Bill Newson said the union called the summit because of the deepening jobs crisis.

"We wanted to bring together people involved in the sector to talk about how we can address the crisis and then to start to build support for a new approach that supports businesses, communities and working New Zealanders.

"This summit showed that there is an emerging consensus that the jobs crisis is real and the Government needs to take a more active role to support manufacturing,'' Mr Newson said.

- NZ Herald

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