Key Points:

Lane Walker Rudkin (LWR) International has confirmed it plans to lay off 60 staff in Christchurch.

The textile manufacturer has picked Otara, in south Auckland, rather than Sydenham as its preferred textile site, and will lay off the Christchurch staff in stages.

Chief executive Malcolm Walkinshaw said the decision followed staff and union consultation on a proposal launched last week and would result in 60 employees losing their jobs.

Mr Walkinshaw said that while he deeply regretted the redundancies, consolidating textile manufacture on to one site in Auckland was essential if the company was to retain a sustainable manufacturing base in New Zealand.

"We simply couldn't afford to operate duplicate textile plants in both locations," he told The Press.

"In the end, we chose Auckland because of that site's greater throughput, its space for future expansion, its lower relocation and operating costs, its reduced capital needs, and its established three-shift roster requiring minimal additional staffing."
Unions fear these redundancies are just the beginning, and that the axe hangs over about 40,000 manufacturing jobs around the country over the next year.

LWR International, which traces its Christchurch origins to the 1880s, employs more than 1000 staff in centres including Timaru, Greytown, Levin, Pahiatua, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The company employs about 300 staff in Christchurch, including those about the laid off.

However, the company said it was committed to keeping the three Christchurch divisions - garment manufacturing, hosiery and underwear and team and sportswear - in the south.

Consolidation in the textile production area had been expected when LWR Manufacturing took over Auckland fashion and garment firm Pod and 280 staff in September last year.

- NZPA