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. Continue reading

John Key’s New Zealand: Warner Brothers get subsidies, New Zealand rail industry workers get redundancy notices

Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says it is highly symbolic that Prime Minister John Key was in Los Angeles dining with Warner Brothers at same time as Kiwirail workers at Dunedin’s Hillside workshops were being handed their redundancy letters.

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Day of shame for National Government and KiwiRail management

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

Strange jobs disconnection between Welfare Working Group and KiwiRail

The Alliance Party has highlighted how the person seeking to solve unemployment on behalf of the Government, is also on the Board of Directors of KiwiRail, whose recent decisions have led to the loss of skilled jobs.
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Job losses at Hillside caused by National’s “great betrayal”

The Alliance Party says today’s announcement of 41 job losses at Dunedin’s Hillside Workshops is the result of a “great betrayal” of New Zealand by John Key and his National Government.
Alliance Party spokesperson Trevor Hanson says the announcement of 41 job losses at Hillside was the direct responsibility of the Prime Minister and his policies.

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Rail campaign Dunedin meeting attracts positive public response

A public meeting in South Dunedin to support the campaign to build new trains for Auckland in New Zealand workshops attracted around 50 people on Monday 12 July 2010.
The message they heard was that Dunedin people will have to stand up and fight to make this goal a reality, with this years local body elections and next years national elections providing an opportunity to apply political pressure.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) Hillside Branch Secretary Les Ingram, who works at Hillside, said an estimated 500 to 1200 extra jobs and nearly $500 million dollars in income were at stake.
“Dunedin cannot afford to let opportunities like this pass it by if we want to provide jobs for local people in the future.”
The RMTU were continuing their campaign and wanted to get across to the public how building rail units locally would provide a massive boost in jobs and income.
The Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) is supporting the RMTU campaign and MUNZ General Secretary Joe Fleetwood, visiting from Wellington, addressed the meeting on free trade issues.
He told the audience that they needed to get behind the Hillside workers campaign and demand that politicians listen.
He said the push for free trade policies was largely responsible for the situation where jobs were threatened due to unbalanced economic policies.
Both speakers agreed that the notion that New Zealand did not have the expertise to do the rail work was discredited nonsense.
Mr Ingram detailed previous work done at Hillside and his view was backed up by a retired engineer in the audience who recounted the many large scale projects other Dunedin firms have undertaken in the past.
The meeting was chaired by Victor Billot of the Alliance Party who said that highly skilled, high value jobs that would be created through building trains locally were exactly what was needed in New Zealand at the current time.
The approach of the National Government was reprehensible, he said.

Rail decision an indictment on Government

The Alliance Party has denounced the decision of Kiwirail management not to bid for the contract to build Auckland’s new electric trains.

Alliance Party transport spokesperson Trevor Hanson says New Zealanders must resist a National Government that is “pulling New Zealand down.”

Mr Hanson says the work should be done in New Zealand.

He says at a time when New Zealanders are suffering from the highest unemployment in many years, the responsibility was on Transport Minister Steven Joyce and the National Government to take action.

“National is stealing jobs from New Zealanders as they have the ability to turn this incredibly bad decision around – if they wanted to.”

“The current National Government and Kiwirail senior management have let New Zealand down badly.”

Mr Hanson says unless the decision is reversed, it will result in higher unemployment, worsen New Zealand’s balance of payments, and reduce our ability to manufacture advanced industrial products.

He says high quality studies have shown the potential benefits of building the new electric trains locally.

Are free trade deals stopping National from backing local rail manufacture?

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.”

Alliance backs campaign for local rail manufacture

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.

Government paralysis in transport failing New Zealand

The Alliance Party says New Zealand’s transport infrastructure should not be allowed to fall victim to the National Government’s lack of foresight and lack of leadership.

Alliance Party transport spokesperson Trevor Hanson says at least two New Zealand regions have had their transport infrastructure put under threat as a result of dominant market players making unilateral decisions – decisions that have serious affected regional industry.

He says it appears the regions are being left high and dry by the Government. Continue reading