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

KiwiRail is not just a Business it is an Essential Public Service

It is time to accept that rail is an essential public service, necessary to build communities and facilitate industries. Rail is there to serve the public good. It will never be a cash cow, according to Alliance co-leader Kay Murray. Ms Murray says “What KiwiRail needs to be is a high quality accessible rail network that moves both people and freight safely and efficiently.” Continue reading

Former maritime leader says Rena grounding inevitable result of maritime deregulation

The Alliance Party says that it is clear that the grounding of the Rena is a disaster that didn’t need to happen, and is the result of deregulation of the maritime industry.

Alliance Party maritime spokesperson Trevor Hanson says he has long predicted an incident like this since “ships of shame” had been allowed to operate freely on the New Zealand coast.

Mr Hanson has many decades of experience in the maritime industry, and is the former General Secretary of the Waterfront Workers Union and the Maritime Union of New Zealand. 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.

National Government must be held accountable for $500 million rail debacle

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.