Not too late to save Hillside if the political will is there

The Alliance Party is appalled but unsurprised at KiwiRail’s announcement that they are to close Dunedin’s Hillside Workshops, making 90 workers redundant.

“We don’t accept this decision,” says Alliance Party co leader and former South Dunedin candidate Kay Murray.

Ms Murray says the Government must intervene right now to demand that KiwiRail keep Hillside workshop open and build their rolling stock there.

She says it is not too late to save Hillside if the political will is there.

“KiwiRail CEO Jim Quinn says, that there is no work for Hillside Workshops. We believe that is simply a lie. There is plenty of work for Hillside Workshops if KiwiRail chooses to allow Hillside to build and repair KiwiRail rolling stock, as the workshop has done for over a century.”

The Alliance says KiwiRail and the Government have been playing a cynical game, disrespecting Hillside workers and the people of Dunedin for the past two years or more.

Ms Murray says the ideologically driven determination to outsource the building of KiwiRail’s rolling stock offshore meant it was inevitable our New Zealand workshops would be closed.

“But they waited until a politically expedient time to do so by gradually starving Hillside of work and going through the ridiculous and no doubt costly, charade of trying to sell the workshop.”

Ms Murray says it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that KiwiRail was never going to be able to find a buyer.

“The Hillside workshops make and repair rolling stock, and they are very good at it. But KiwiRail is the only user of rolling stock in the country, and they won’t give their work to Hillside. They outsource it overseas.”

The closure of Hillside is not an unfortunate accident or a byproduct of the world economic crisis, she says.

“It is the result of a morally bankrupt ideology that seeks to to drive down the price of labour by outsourcing to the cheapest possible source.”

“It is a failure to acknowledge that everyone is entitled to a living wage. And it is financial suicide for New Zealand when our own government makes this the cornerstone of its procurement policy.”

Ms Murray says there will be no economic recovery for New Zealand while such short sighted decisions continue to be made by those in positions of power.