Summit workers face uncertainty after sale

It will be some months before it's known how many jobs the new owner of Oamaru's Summit Wool Spinners might have available and there's a risk skilled staff could be lost in the meantime.

The wool spinning plant, which is Oamaru's second biggest employer, has been conditionally sold to carpet manufacturer Godfrey Hirst and all 192 staff are being made redundant at the end of February.

Godfrey Hirst general manager Tania Pauling says a small number of the plant's employees could be rehired, but it will be some months before those positions are available.


 

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"The plant won't continue on in its current form because it's clearly not sustainable," Ms Pauling told Radio New Zealand.

"We're going to look at the business, go through the fundamentals and see if we can revitalise it in an amended form."

It's hoped Godfrey Hirst will have a clear idea of the plant's future by May.

Until then, Ms Pauling says it's uncertain how many staff the company might look to employ, but it could be as high as 50.

"Obviously there is a risk for us in losing skilled workers in that hiatus period," she says.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union says workers were told the New Zealand dollar's high value was a contributing factor to the sale.

EPMU organiser John Gardner said the company had, like many other companies, been hit hard by the inflated currency.

"Summit is the second largest employer in Oamaru and has been a part of the town for 130 years. These redundancies are devastating for staff and for the whole community of Oamaru which relies so heavily on these jobs," he said.

Opposition parties have called on the government to act over the high exchange rate.

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