Direct Action Over Hillside


Rail and Maritime Transport Union members are taking direct action over the Hillside issue.

Workers in Tauranga held a mass stop work meeting yesterday and unanimously voted to take direct action to stop the arrival and commissioning of the first batch of overseas built wagons, which are due to arrive imminently.

RMTU National President Aubrey Wilkinson, who works at the Port of Tauranga says members are calling upon KiwiRail and the Government to abandon their plans to cut jobs at Hillside and Hutt workshops.

There are 40 jobs under threat in Dunedin and another 30 are being targeted in the Hutt. This is a direct consequence of KiwiRail’s decision to buy rolling stock made overseas.

Yesterday our members in the RMTU Rail and Port branches in Tauranga voted to mount pickets to prevent foreign built rolling stock getting on the track here in New Zealand. We understand that the ship carrying the first batch of overseas built wagons is due to arrive in the Port of Tauranga any day now. We’re not going to let that happen without putting up a fight,” said Aubrey Wilkinson.

“We have the support of our fellow members in the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and other RMTU branches across the country. We’ll be calling meetings in Port Chalmers and Wellington to hold similar votes as we understand the ship carrying these wagons is also calling at those ports.”

More DLs are on their way from China

“This is a fight for jobs and skills in New Zealand. The Government is the shareholder of KiwiRail. They can, and they should, direct KiwiRail to stop buying rolling stock overseas. We have the expertise to build the wagons here and the flow-on  benefits to the New Zealand economy are huge,” said Aubrey Wilkinson.

“Hundreds of jobs and dozens of businesses depend on work generated by our rail workshops in Dunedin and the Hutt. This work sustains our communities. All we’re asking the Government to do is listen to us and to do the right thing for New Zealand.:

A further 20 DL locomotives from China’s CNR Corporation will arrive in the second half of next year.

They will be the same as the 20 locomotives that have recently been delivered to KiwiRail.





  1. KarlHansen says:

    I hope they manage to get some traction. But our “free trade!” government will do everything to buy cheapest possible, no matter what it does to their own countrymen.

  2. Donald Neal says:

    Mind you, if the aim is to preserve railways jobs, it would make far more sense to picket the importing of trucks, or indeed oil, than railway wagons.

  3. Bryan says:

    As long as picketing the wagons doesn’t result in a larger number of RMTU members losing their jobs - the ones who actually operate the trains, and for whom the new wagons and locos are critical for long term job security.

  4. KarlHansen says:

    Bryan, apart from being mainly symbolic (or do you think they have a real chance to physically prevent the imports???) that kind of comment could have come right from the top of KiwiRail management.

    Not accusing you of anything - just that the “divide and conquer” method exactly along the lines of such comments has always been used to work agains unionised labour. “You better not support those striking lazybags, or you will be out of a job soon too!”

    Bosses know that unionised organisations have lots of power. This (and our decline of manufacturing) is the main reason why they try to keep unions small and people divided wherever they can. Can’t have anything approaching negotiation partity between workers and employers in the 21st century. It’s all banks and CEOs who rule the world nowadays.

  5. Giel says:

    Karl - Thats a bit “trendy lefty” - LOL

  6. KarlHansen says:

    Not sure what is trendy about workers rights. A century of capitalism-funded journalism and propoaganda may have told you it’s a quaint notion to have unions and solidarity between employed people, but it remains as key as it was.

    Society has just gotten a lot more atomised and capitalism even more powerful, so they take full advantage of the divideDED and conquer situation.

  7. Bryan says:

    Do Kiwirail not need these new wagons urgently to carry freight for their customers? If Kiwirail can’t carry their customer’s freight reliably (because the old wagons keep breaking), then that freight will end up on the roads and what then for Kiwirail?

    Saving the jobs of 40 workers is commendable, but not if it puts the rest of the workforce at risk. After all, Kiwirail’s core business is carrying freight, not builidng wagons (even if they do an excellent job).

    Labour could have saved these jobs by announcing an investment package when they bought the business off Toll, which would have guaranteed that Toll’s local loco assembly plan would have gone ahead, and Hillside would have been geared up to build the necessary wagons before the situation got critical

    The last thing Kiwirail needs is to be brought to it’s knees by a combination of union action and poor management (as happened to British Leyland).

  8. Giel says:

    Karl - Your comments seem to hark back to the 1950′s to 1970′s which was a time of a “Us vs. Them” mentality between Workers and Management. This was also a time when the Proletariat were seen as significantly disadvantaged as they lacked knowledge and any capital access. Basically it is an out dated form of Marxism by another name. Marx argued that current Labour was the primary force of production / wealth creation rather than the more balanced view today of Capital allocation and current Labour. Much of that Capital is now from retired “Mums and Dads” who were once considered the Proletariat in their younger days before they had any saved Capital invested. Most workers also now have an imbedded share of the “Labour Capital” they contribute to the “Resources Capital” they work on through savings invested – for example Kiwi Saver or the equity in their homes. They don’t want that destroyed by a dinosaur view (read fathom Proletariat or Marxist set of old world union views). Also huge technology advances contribute much to wealth creation today so it is not exploited Labour as Marx postulated that simply creates capital today – it may have been 100 years ago but not today. Those days are largely gone in developed countries like NZ and people have benefited from enormous gains over the last 50 years due to the more entrepreneurial / efficient capital allocation. Workers are better off in a material and capital sense than they ever were.

    Also any company that mistreats workers in developed countries like NZ has a short tenure of existence. Likewise old Union style views of pointless “black bans” that harp back to the 1970′s are doomed to failure as they do more harm than good to wealth creation for all - especially the “workers” who stand to proportionally to loose the most capital. There are many examples of that in the older NZ Rail history. Today is more about consensus and management taking employees with them and letting them see how things work in the “big picture”. Modern unions are more progressive in that respect and generally don’t simply try to protect a status quo well past it used by date. They try to find productive jobs for their constituents by working with management.

    So yes you are right it is not that “Trendy” to be “Leftie” but it is a term that Muldoon used to use in the 1970’s and those comments seemed to hark back more to his era and so seemed entirely appropriate.


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