The announcement of the sale of the century old Hillside Workshops is not good news, despite the spin from politicians and KiwiRail CEO Jim Quinn. Continue reading
The Alliance Party says Friday 15 July is a shameful day for New Zealand, as a shipment of Chinese built railway wagons are unloaded in Tauranga, less than twenty four hours after it was announced over 40 wagon builders at Hillside workshops will be made redundant. Continue reading
The Alliance Party says KiwiRail CEO Jim Quinn and the silent Minister of Transport Steven Joyce may not think New Zealand can handle such a large engineering contract as the building of Auckland’s new electric trains – but New Zealand workers are absolutely certain that they can do the job.
Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says a rally of rail engineering workers in Dunedin this week showed that the skills, motivation and community support were there.
All that is lacking is corporate leadership and political leadership from a National Government.
National has failed the tens of thousands of workers who have lost jobs since John Key came to office, and are now effectively forcing hundreds of millions of dollars of rail engineering contracts out of the country.
The Alliance is urging New Zealanders to support the Rail and Maritime Transport Union campaign to build rolling stock in New Zealand which has attracted widespread support in the community (http://www.rmtunion.org.nz/articles/article-building-rolling-stock-in-nz.php)
“It is not acceptable to send $500 million of taxpayers money out of the country when jobs are needed and communities are struggling. It is not acceptable to deny New Zealanders work and all the flow on effects keeping Kiwis in work would bring.”
Over 1700 workers recently applied for 170 jobs at a new Bunnings store in Dunedin, indicating the seriousness of the unemployment crisis affecting many regions of New Zealand – a crisis that the Government will not even acknowledge.
Ms Murray says the $500 million contract has turned into a debacle with local workers denied the opportunity to use their skills.
Phase Two “Expressions of Interest” closes at the end of this week, but KiwiRail’s own workshops Hillside and Hutt Valley are forbidden to participate.
The people of New Zealand own KiwiRail and we must insist that our public rail system must not give public money to overseas corporations when we can do the job ourselves.
The Alliance says the chickens are coming home to roost as successive Government’s have gambled and lost on free trade dogma that has undermined our industry.
The Alliance Party is asking whether the Government’s obsession with free trade agreements is behind its refusal to support the manufacture of rail rolling stock in New Zealand by Kiwirail.
Alliance Party transport spokesperson Trevor Hanson says the Government’s undermining of New Zealand industry and jobs is so blatant that it was disturbing.
“The case to build locally through Kiwirail, put together by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union along with local Government and local business, is so strong that there must be some motive behind the National Government’s negative approach.”
A study by economic consultancy BERL has estimated that building these trains at home would add between 770 to 1270 additional jobs and $232 to $250 million to GDP.
Mr Hanson says that successive National and Labour Government’s have taken New Zealand into a global free trade “dead end” where New Zealand’s ability to control their own economic destiny was threatened.
He says it is incredible that the National Government were prepared to undermine New Zealand industry, contribute to our balance of payments deficit, and condemn skilled New Zealand workers to the dole queue.
Mr Hanson says if the National Government continues to ignore the high rate of unemployment and exodus of our manufacturing industries and jobs out of New Zealand, the result will be New Zealand’s descent into “developing nation” status, with inequality increasing and predictable “social breakdown”.
He says the Alliance is strongly backing the campaign by the Rail and Maritime Transport Union to build rolling stock in New Zealand and the party also supported the expansion of a public owned rail system.
“The National Party should change its name to the Multinational Party – because they obviously have no interest in New Zealand’s national interest.”
The Alliance is backing a campaign by rail workers to have KiwiRail’s new locomotives and wagons built in New Zealand.
The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) is using an open day at Hutt Rail workshops today Sunday 28 February 2010, from 11am until 4pm, to urge KiwiRail to manufacture its new locomotives and wagons locally.
Alliance Party transport spokesperson Trevor Hanson says the Prime Minister John Key should forget about “party central” on the Auckland waterfront and pay some attention to New Zealand’s ability to provide jobs and keep its industry.
He says there is concern that New Zealand’s entrapment in free trade deals could threaten our ability to specify local production in cases like this.
Mr Hanson says New Zealand has the capability to build the heavy machinery and it was important that this capability be used.
“There are a number of benefits, including job creation at a time of high unemployment, putting money into the New Zealand economy, and promoting our engineering and manufacturing skill base.”
Mr Hanson challenged KiwiRail management, the National Government and the Labour Party to commit to supporting New Zealand industry and New Zealand workers by supporting local manufacture of locomotives and wagons.
Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says international tendering cannot be justified when Kiwirail’s own workshops could do the work.
Kiwirail’s Lower Hutt workshop in Wellington and Hillside workshop in South Dunedin both have the skills and the capacity to build the trains, she says.
“There is a responsibility for the Government to ensure that this work is carried out by New Zealand industry,” says Ms Murray, who stood for the Alliance in the Dunedin South electorate in 2008.
She says in South Dunedin, Hillside was a major employer, and the development of skills and infrastructure through doing this work would provide a major boost for the local economy and employment.
“The new trains are being paid for by New Zealand taxpayers. The Government has a duty to ensure that if at all possible the work stays in New Zealand and is used to provide jobs for New Zealanders both in the workshops and the wider community where the workers wages will be spent.”
Ms Murray says this is especially important when we are still in an economic recession with tens of thousands of New Zealanders out of work.
She says it is important New Zealand has the ability to carry out industrial and manufacturing work of this kind to build an advanced, modern economy with high waged and skilled jobs.