Southland is gearing up for change. Like many of our regional communities, all sorts of global and local forces mean it’s time for a rethink in the region.
Tiwai Point aluminium smelter is one of the biggest employers in the region, and it provides hundreds of jobs at the smelter and at the local businesses that work alongside it. The company has announced plans to close the plant 2024.
What will that mean for the Southland community? While change in the New Zealand workforce is inevitable, we know that it’s often workers and their communities who unfairly bear the brunt. To combat this, E tū campaigns for a Just Transition – ensuring that communities are protected.
E tū members at Tiwai Point know that just sitting by won’t help anything. This is their future, and the future for their community. That’s why they’ve been organising to make sure their voices count, and their interests are prioritised, whatever happens.
To get the ball rolling, E tū held meetings in November, with all union and non-union workers at Tiwai welcome. Delegate Tony O’Driscoll took a leadership role in organising these meetings and says he’s hopeful for the future.
“Everyone who went to the meetings was pretty positive, I’ve been getting some good feedback,” Tony says.
“Membership is growing, and hopefully we get a threshold to do some serious negotiation with the company. We want to concentrate on health and safety as well as everything else.”
Another exciting development is E tū’s new partnership with Murihiku Regeneration, a project by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, focussed on a prosperous and sustainable future for people in the Southland region. E tū Co-Presidents Muriel Tunoho and Don Pryde visited Southland to sign this historic deal.
Don says it’s very important for unions, iwi, and all community stakeholders to work together for a Just Transition.
“It’s about the future for everyone, so that’s why we all need to be involved in these discussions,” Don says.
“I’m proud that E tū is once again on the cutting edge of new ways of working with our community partners. That’s how we’ll make sure we really get a say in the future of our regions.”