17 Feb 2014

Fletchers to sell Auckland steel mill

10:02 pm on 17 February 2014

Fletcher Building says all of its Auckland steel workers will be offered new roles or a similar job with the company that plans to buy its Otahuhu steel mill for $120 million.

Fletcher Building is selling its Pacific Steel division to BlueScope Steel. It includes its rolling mill and wire drawing facilities in South Auckland, as well as its Fijian rolling mill. However, its steel mill will close by the end of 2015.

The Pacific Steel mill in Otahuhu.

The Pacific Steel mill in Otahuhu. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The sale was announced on Monday and has been criticised by New Zealand's biggest union which says dozens of workers face redundancy.

Under the deal, nearly three-quarters of Pacific Steel's 315 workers will shift to the Australian-owned New Zealand Steel factory at Glenbrook when Pacific Steel is sold at the end of June this year.

Fletcher Building's head of investor relations and capital markets, Phillip King, said about 90 staff would be retrained and offered new roles within the company by the end of 2015.

"Basically, we're offering to invest in our employees and broaden their skill base and offer them further opportunities with the Fletcher Building Group."

Mr King said the steel division has struggled to make a profit for many years. The deal needs Commerce Commission clearance, but is expected to go through by the end of June this year, he said.

The Engineering, Printing, and Manufacturing Union on Monday questioned New Zealand's strategy surrounding steel manufacture.

National secretary Bill Newson said there needs to be a government strategy when it comes to making and importing steel.

"Come on, exporting ironsand to China to make cheap steel to send back to Christchurch while we're putting ... steel workers in New Zealand through an uncertain future is nuts."

Mr Newson said Fletcher is taking a proactive approach and providing a lot of information to workers.