10 Feb 2009

NZ Steel avoids job losses

3:35 pm on 10 February 2009

New Zealand Steel says it has been able to avoid job cuts at its plant at Glenbrook, south of Auckland, despite falling demand in New Zealand.

Steel prices and production have been falling internationally, along with other bulk commodities, leading to job losses in overseas companies.

Managers at Glenbrook say they have stopped some overtime and ended some external contracts but have not had to reduce staffing levels.

New Zealand Steel senior executive Tony Wright says the low dollar and short production runs have helped secure export contracts in North America, and the company has also gained orders from Asia.

He said that has offset diminished demand from within New Zealand.

Unpaid leave offer for smelter workers

The aluminium smelter at Bluff is offering unpaid leave as a way of avoiding job cuts.

The smelter's general manager, Paul Hemburrow, says he is surprised by the number of workers who want to take unpaid leave.

Staff are being offered the option to avoid cuts to any of the more than 800 jobs at Tiwai Point.

The smelter is suffering from a combination of the global recession, dropping aluminium prices, and a 28 per cent cut in production.

Mr Hemburrow says the number of workers who have shown interest in the option is double that expected by management.

Rio Tinto, the company that owns the smelter, has already cut tens of thousands of jobs overseas.