Another Plea For Local Rail Work


The Rail and Maritime Transport Union says confirmation of the declining manufacturing in the Otago region should be a wakeup call to the government to support the local rail manufacturing and associated engineering industries.

Today’s BNZ/Business New Zealand performance of manufacturing survey shows that while Otago experienced an improvement on March figures, overall, manufacturing was still in decline in the region. The Central region, where KiwiRail’s Woburn workshop in Lower Hutt is based, also declined.

“How we can retain any form of rail manufacturing base in this country when government procurement settings do not support local industry,” Wayne Butson, General Secretary of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union said.

“This is the time to be backing the Hillside and Woburn workshops, not walking away from them, as we saw from the government’s weak response to last year’s business case to ensure the $500 million job to build Auckland’s new Electric Multiple Units stayed in New Zealand. We have the expertise and equipment in our rail workshops in Dunedin and Lower Hutt to carry out more rail manufacturing work.  All we need now is a government willing to back local industry, and help keep good manufacturing jobs in New Zealand.”

“Australia has stronger local content requirements than we do. KiwiRail and other crown entities need a firm direction from their shareholder, the government, to make it clear that buying local must always be the first option where possible. We are hopeful that Dunedin South MP Clare Curran’s Kiwi Jobs Bill will be drawn from the ballot soon, to allow this debate to occur.”

Wayne Butson said that although KiwiRail had failed to submit a bid for the $500 million job to build Auckland’s new Electric Multiple Units, there was still a chance that local industry could benefit, if KiwiRail followed through on the local content provisions in placed in tender documents.


Wellington's spruced up Ganz-Mavang {KiwiRail

Last month KiwiRail announced the two shortlisted firms for the contract to build 38 three-car electric multiple units and 13 locomotives for the Auckland rail network.  A final decision is expected within the next three to four months.





  1. Penfold says:

    I believe the way to approach this would be when they are tendering these jobs to asses how they will generate taxes from a local firm using local workers and apply a discount on their price when comparing it to overseas companies. So you would look at the fact that the staff will all pay PAYE, buy things to live that they pay GST on, and live in New Zealand therefore paying rates to their local government. Afterall the PAYE and GST come back to the government so they’re only loosing that money temporarily, and rates for local government will reduce the amount that central government needs to support them. Also they could consider the fact that if the contract goes overseas they would be paying unemployment benefits to those staff, so that could be an addition to the discount.

  2. DanC says:

    Buy NZ made! And keep your country working.

  3. Carl says:

    ^ what he said, there shouldn’t even be any consideration otherwise.

    Here we have a prime op to keep people employed and they can’t even do that.


    look after some kiwis for once, rather some overseas company.

  4. Jim C says:

    I’ve seen the workshop at Hillside and I’m very impressed. The quality of the work they put out is excellent. Labour bought back our rail system and was slowly improving it. The current government should be carrying on the same track. Not only should improvement be made to the track signals etc but our rolling stock manufacturing as well.

  5. Kurt says:

    This is a great example that cuts to the core of NZ’s very existence. If NZ disappeared tomorrow the rest of the world wouldn’t notice. We have to look after ourselves.

    So what if it costs a bit more, at least quality productive jobs are kept in NZ rather than yet another manufacturing job disappearing overseas.

    This attitude of the cheapest cost at all costs since the 80′s has seen us fall backward as a country and is a good reason why there is so little manufacturing left and our economy is going downhill. And its a very good reason why so many Kiwi’s are leaving New Zealand for good.

  6. ingolfson says:

    I am afraid that people like our prime minister, educated and steeped in the ways of the “global” economy, consider such an appeal nonsense.

    They feel that getting your goods and services where they are cheapest is the best way, every time. If one is lucky, they will also insist that the goods and services sourced from somewhere match high standards (though often they consider that the market will fix that too! Yeah, right, watertight housing, anyone?).

    But beyond that, the free marketeers have no idea where the race to the bottom is leading us.

  7. Mike says:

    So the workshops have experience refurbishing old railcars and maintenes to old trains. Great so you can do heavy welding, machining, lay carpet, rebuild diesel engines. Those are all nice skills
    How much technical experience to do have with building modern integrated equipment?
    How many electric passenger trains have you produced?
    Do you even have a prototype train running that is even close to the specification?
    Actually hold on, how much of a design do you even has at the moment?
    How much experience do you have with $50M project, let alone a $500?

    Compare that to the two remaining tenders.
    Both have been producing electric passenger trains for years and world leaders with technology. Both will have all the technical equipment tested /reliable already in place for what is needed, there will just be a repackaging to suit the given specifications. I’m pretty dam sure they’ve handled project bigger than $500M.

    The reason KiwiRail didn’t get the tender is because they’re at best have a very remote chance of pulling the project off within on budget and on time. Plus we’d probably end up with 38 first prototypes and the problems that come with earlier prototypes. The remaining contenders provide a much more reliable technology and ability to meet the contract. Given that I wouldn’t even give the project to my brother if he owned KiwiRail.

    This is just the typical dreaming by Unions formed of the guys working on the bottom levels. Next we’ll have mechanics at Ardmore saying they can produce planes for Air NZ instead of Boeing and Airbus. The mechanic down the road can build a car that compares to something from Toyota?


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