KiwiRail & Union Talks Break Down


Talks between the rail workers’ union and KiwiRail over the future of 40 jobs at Hillside workshops in Dunedin have broken down.

This after the union suggested the company was engaging in “sham consultation.”

KiwiRail is currently consulting on a proposal to cut its workforce in Dunedin and Lower Hutt by 70, and to buy 300 wagons from overseas instead of having them built locally.

A public meeting on the matter in Dunedin tonight,will include speakers representing the Dunedin City Council, Otago Chamber of Commerce, opposition MPs and others.

RMTU General Secretary Wayne Butson said at issue was the union’s challenge to KiwiRail over the veracity of their data to back up claims that building trains in New Zealand is not economic.

“Our team has seen some information around the bids by Hillside and the Chinese manufacturer. We are not at all convinced by the analysis presented by KiwiRail. It is our view that they have either not taken some costs into account or they have withheld information,” he said.

“We will be seeking KiwiRail’s agreement to subject their data to independent analysis.”

Kiwirail and union talks aren't moving

Organiser of tonight’s meeting, David Kearns, who works at Hillside, said that workers needed adequate information and sufficient time to make submissions on KiwiRail’s redundancy proposal.

“We want KiwiRail to meet its obligations as an SOE to consider the wider social impact of its proposal. We need time to put together a report on that and we need reliable information,” he said.

“We’re confident of strong local support from the public on our campaign to have these wagons built at home. We start with a public meeting tonight and we’ll do whatever it takes from there,” said David Kearns.




  1. Giel says:

    Unions are about protecting all the jobs and rights of the workers and a business is about building a sustainable competitive operation and increasing shareholder value. It is a unfortunate fact of the modern day business paradigm that sometimes these goals are not congruent and this stoush simply reflects that sad reality.

  2. Matt says:

    Giel, they don’t have to be at odds, however. It’s more often a sad reality that NZ business owners frequently behave as though a) they’re doing staff a favour for deigning to employ them, and b) treating staff well is a pure cost with no return.

    In this case we add in KR’s unfortunate stance that the only figure of importance is the headline cost, supported by the Minister of Trucks, and we end up with a situation where the unions can be taken as arguing a proxy position for the wider NZ economy in direct conflict with the position of the NZ government.

  3. tuktuk says:

    Given that Kiwirail is a government entity, tendering processes must have a greater degree of transparency toward the wider community. Especially where there appears to be some disagreement about what the actual cost difference is between between local versus Chinese manufacture.

    Kiwirail themselves have come up with two figures - 20% and 25%. We have seen 12% claimed as the cost difference by the union involved. We have seen $2 million claimed as the cost difference by one of the other posters on this site.

    NZTA and the MoT have used WEBs (Wider Economic Benefits) in their costings for a number of current roading proposals…………..if the cost difference between local and Chinese manufacture is close, surely here is a legitimate case to also investigates WEBs.

  4. George D says:

    Well said tuktuk.


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