10 Jan 2013

Kawerau paper mill job losses confirmed

6:10 am on 10 January 2013

Norske Skog has confirmed 110 jobs are going at its paper mill in Kawerau.

The company is closing one of two newsprint machines at the mill, which was built in the 1950s.

A total of 169 full time jobs will remain at the mill following the redundancies, which will occur over the next three to four months.

In September, the company announced it would have to shut down one of the machines, saying demand for newsprint had fallen and a high dollar was making exports to Asia unprofitable.

The remaining machine will continue producing newsprint, mostly for New Zealand and Australia.

The mill supplies all of New Zealand's newsprint and telephone directory requirements.

In a statement on Wednesday, general manager, Peter McCarty, said the company could be proud of operating the mill successfully and bringing wealth to the region for more than 50 years.

He said the company would be diversifying into renewable energy and biofuels.

The September announcement coincided with The New Zealand Herald moving to a smaller format for its Monday - Friday editions.

EPMU wants Govt jobs strategy

The Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union says the job cuts at the Kawerau mill are a clear indication New Zealand is in a jobs crisis.

Union spokesperson Strachan Crang said the Kawerau district is depressed for jobs, and some people are turning to Auckland and Australia for work.

He said rural areas are being hit particularly hard by what he calls the jobs crisis.

Mr Crang said the union is calling on the Government to have a jobs strategy.

"We think that the Government is sitting on its hands and hasn't got a solution for the deepening jobs crisis that New Zealand faces at the moment."

Mr Crang said the Government could have intervened in the currency markets to try and drive the dollar down.

Limited effect foreseen

Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell said the cuts will have a negligible impact on the town's economy.

He said most employees live out of Kawerau and don't spend money there and the town won't suffer from the job losses.

He also said some of the older employees are likely to receive large redundancy payouts, but younger ones could struggle to find new jobs.