A wood processing titan in Northland is culling 164 jobs — more than two thirds of its workforce — as part of a plan to abandon export sales and focus on domestic supply only.
E tū union said Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) confirmed to its 241 employees of its laminated veneer lumber (LVL) plant at Marsden Pt on Monday afternoon that the restructure would go ahead.
The sobering news followed feedback the company received from the workers and E tū which represents 150 workers at the LVL plant.
Last month, the company proposed to cut 68 per cent of its production roles from 241 down to just 77 and blamed the restructure on the unprofitable export side of the LVL business, which accounted for about 70 per cent of the production and sales volume.
Some of the workers have been with the company since its inception about 19 years ago.
The plant presently runs 24 hours, seven days a week using renewable plantation pine to make laminated veneer lumber (LVL) which is an engineered wood product typically used as structural members for lintels, beams, mid-floors and roofs across residential and commercial building projects.
• Carter Holt Harvey proposes to chop workforce at Marsden Point in half
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• Union fears 70pc of workers at Marsden Point LVL plant to lose their jobs
E tū union Northland representative Annie Tothill said CHH's decision was brutal and devastating, not just for the affected workers, but for the region that was already economically depressed.
CHH yesterday declined to comment on any aspect of the restructure.
Despite the plant receiving about $2.2 million in wage subsidies in the first week of April, Tothill said workers were forced to use about two weeks of their annual leave during level 4 lockdown.
"A number of workers have got no leave entitlement because the company, without consulting, without their authority, without the workers completing leave forms, harvested their annual leave."
Tothill said she was waiting for CHH's response on matters such as redundancy payout and other support for affected workers.
She said the company has identified the number of staff it wished to employ post-restructure but not the people who would be made redundant.
"They have a selection criteria. On the big press, the number of roles will come down from 35 to 10. Then there are two training assessors whose roles have been disestablished.
"Some of them have got notices as their positions have been eliminated. We've asked the company for additional support like resources being made available to give financial advice around access to super funds, debt consolidation, how to approach their banks to break mortgage payments."
Tothill said with a number of employers in manufacturing and infrastructure issuing restructure notices with potential redundancies, the Government needed to step in quickly for communities to prevent a self-fulfilling cycle of job losses and economic downturn.
The Government also needed to create an accountable pathway for the timber manufacturing industry to thrive again, including exports, she said.
"To rebuild better, we need to keep and increase the number of decent jobs in New Zealand. The jobs at Carter Holt Harvey are good, sustainable manufacturing jobs that provide for hundreds of workers and their families, indeed the whole community."
E tū industry councillor Glen Chaplin visited the workers at the LVL plant and said they were completely demoralised by the proposed redundancy.
"They are absolutely gutted with the timing. They don't know what to do next and don't necessarily see a path forward for getting other work."
Forestry Minister Shane Jones last month introduced the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill which he said would enhance the domestic wood processing sector, help create new export products, create new jobs for Kiwis, and a renewed sense of ownership of forests.