Workers at Norske Skog’s Tasman Mill now know they’ll be losing their jobs in little over a month’s time.
On Wednesday afternoon, workers were told the mill will be stopping production from the end of June, with most taking
redundancy from 16 July once a clean-up has been completed at the site.
The closure affects about 160 workers, including more than 30 E tū members who work in maintenance.
Delegate and E tū industry spokesperson Bruce Habgood says while there’s relief from some workers that there is more
clarity around what their future holds, the sense of loss is real.
“There’s a strong sense of mourning that the mill is shutting down – it’s been a big part of the town’s history for
several generations and is the reason Kawerau township was built in the first place.
“While the mill now isn’t the huge employer it used to be, there’s many other businesses that have been created to
support it – and they may really suffer ‘death by a thousand cuts’ once the mill’s gone.”
Bruce says the closure highlights the importance of workers being unionised, so that they have access to collective
agreements that contain redundancy provisions and protections.
“Some of the workers at the mill are of an age and skillset that means they aren’t so employable anymore and might never
work again. We also really need businesses to have their own transition plans going forward so that workers have choices
Outplacement services will be available to workers, but E tū will be looking at how to formally recognise workers’
skills gained on the job so they can take up other employment opportunities, Bruce says.
E tū organiser Raymond Wheeler says E tū will also be discussing reskilling and training opportunities for all mill
Having a ‘Just Transition’ plan in place is crucial to ensuring workers have a future when businesses close, and this
includes provisions such as social insurance as the Government proposed in Budget 2021, he says.
“A Just Transition is vital, both now and for future generations to come, and is a concept which the Climate Change
Commission has recognised is key in transitioning to a low-carbon future.
“We also need to continue to progress the Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) for the forestry and wood processing sector
and see what can be done to bring more of the manufacturing supply chain back to Aotearoa New Zealand.”