Unilever closing Petone washing powder factory, moving 58 jobs to Australia

News from EPMU
At a meeting late today, workers at Unilever’s washing powder factory in Petone were told that their jobs will likely be gone and the factory will close by 2015.

“This has been in the works for a while, so at least it isn’t a shock to our members,” says Louisa Jones, EPMU manufacturing industry organiser. “But it’s really disappointing to see more work getting sent off shore.

“For some of our members, this is the only job they’ve ever had. We’re optimistic that they’ll be able to find work elsewhere because they are skilled, but it’s never good to be out of work, especially in the current economic climate.”

Unilever is now undertaking consultation with its 58 workers on its proposal to close the factory. It has cited decreased demand for washing powder as one of the reasons for the closure, and says this does not reflect on the skills and commitment of its workers.

“The manufacturing sector is still under huge pressure due to the high exchange rate and lack of investment,” says Louisa. “We believe these jobs could have been saved if the government took an active approach to supporting our manufacturers and exporters.”

The Parliamentary Inquiry into Manufacturing, which was convened by Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First and Mana parties, made 11 recommendations for the government to support the manufacturing industry. None of these have been implemented.

EPMU and SFWU members at Unilever will receive a redundancy package under their collective agreement.


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