When Warren Goodman was called to a work meeting he thought he was going to learn about the new health and safety legislation.

Instead Mr Goodman, a maintenance electrician at Cavalier Bremworth's Whanganui plant for the past 35 years, discovered he and his 107 colleagues were about to lose their jobs.

All 108 Whanganui jobs at Cavalier Spinners will be lost in Cavalier Bremworth's proposed restructuring process, and 40 different jobs in felting will be created, making a total of 68 job losses in Whanganui.

It was a "big shock", Mr Goodman said.


"My wife was very upset when I told her as well."

He said there had been talk around the factory that some of the Whanganui work would move to the Napier plant.

"In the back of our minds we thought that maybe some time in the future they would move one section [of the plant] to Napier. But we weren't expecting it to happen right now, on the spot," he said.

Mr Goodman is one of two electricians at the Whanganui plant, and neither will be required after the restructuring.

He said he has no idea what he will do if he is made redundant.

"I might be able to get a wee bit of part-time work."

Tony Mudgway has worked at Cavalier Bremworth for nine years on the spinning frames.

"When we heard that people on holiday were being called in for this meeting, we knew something was up."

He said workers were shocked and angered by the news. The company allowed workers to go home after the meeting to talk with their families, he said.

He said he thought it would be difficult for most of the Whanganui workers to move to Napier, where spinning operations will be consolidated.

"You've got to think about your mortgage, about your kids in school. It's a big move. I don't think you'd get 40 people from here who'd want to move to Napier - although the chance of them getting a job here would be very slim, I'd say."

Kaye Hearfield from First Union said news of the proposed closure came as a shock to the organisation. She said the company had restructured last year, and the union thought the remaining jobs were safe.

She said during the consultation process, which runs until early May, the union will be trying to persuade Cavalier Bremworth that the job losses are unnecessary.

"We will be using this window of opportunity for feedback to the best of our ability. Our intention is to convince the company to retain the employment levels it currently has."

Ms Hearfield said 66 Whanganui staff were members of First Union, while E Tu Union has five, including Mr Goodman.

Pete Connelly from E Tu said he only found out about the proposed job losses through the media. He said the timing of the proposal was strange as both E Tu and First unions were about to start collective contract negotiations with the company.

Mr Connelly said the collective contract included generous redundancy for workers.

"But that is cold comfort for the workers who might find themselves trying to find a stable income in the future."