The closure of Whakatāne Mill has been confirmed, with over 150 skilled operational workers being made redundant after 85 years of operations.
FIRST Union and E tū say that while vital the impact on the local community will be significant, there is still a chance for a new buyer to repurpose the existing plant and secure crucial infrastructure in New Zealand’s forestry supply chain.
“There are many options for refitting the existing assets to continue manufacturing pulp and paper products,” said Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Logistics and Finance.
“We are inviting potential buyers to ask for our assistance to get the support needed to make the most of the existing skills and infrastructure available.
“There are opportunities in the industry and there is an important role for Government to play in securing the wood supply chain and increasing our manufacturing capacity.”
E tū spokesperson Raymond Wheeler says the announcement of the closure is “devastating” for local industry, including businesses such as scaffolding and engineering.
“We’ve just had the economic impact of the Whakaari (White Island) eruption and COVID-19 on Whakatāne’s tourism industry to contend with, and now the region has been dealt this blow. It’s an enormous hit to the regions and to the eastern Bay of Plenty.”
Raymond says job opportunities in the area are limited, and emphasises the urgency around the Government’s work on an Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) for the forestry and wood processing sector, if local manufacturing is to survive.
information and comment:
Jared Abbott, 021 617 131
Raymond Wheeler, 027 597 5404