Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Timber workers thrown lifeline

Up to 50 workers and contractors at Carter Holt Harvey's Rotorua Profiles plant have been thrown a lifeline after being told a private investor was in the process of buying the timber processing operation.

On November 22, workers were told Carter Holt Harvey was proposing to close the plant on December 20, with another 18 jobs on the line at the company's plywood processing plant in Tokoroa.

The company cited a fall in demand from export markets in Australia and the decline of new building work in New Zealand as the reason for the proposed redundancies.

But at a meeting on Monday staff were told a prospective buyer had been found for the Rotorua operation.

Site safety supervisor Daniel Mathew said staff were spoken to yesterday by Wellington-based businessman William Giesbers, who said he had almost completed a deal to take over the plant.

Mr Giesbers is director of Giesbers Financial Services in Wellington.

"We are being given new contracts to sign on Monday next week before the deal is finalised on December 20," Mr Mathew said.

"Everyone here is pretty happy, it's been a real roller coaster for the last month but there are a lot of relieved people here," he said.

Mr Giesbers told The Daily Post the deal was not done and dusted just yet, but he was expecting everything to go ahead as planned.

"A lot could happen between now and then. But I think the site has a lot of potential ... it's got quite good gear ... a good central site and a very loyal work force."

He said the plant only operated for 40 hours a week and he wanted to bring the hours of operation up and increase throughput, meaning there could be more jobs available in the future.

He was also looking at the possibility of producing different products as well as securing new markets.

"That's what I'm hoping to achieve, it's an under-developed resource.

"Naturally, a second shift would almost double the workforce. The promise for the threatened site is very good."

Mr Giesbers said he felt staff were very positive about the proposed change.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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