June 01, 2021
Relief as Whakatane Mill jobs secured
A First Union delegate says there is huge relief the 80-year-old Whakatāne Mill will continue under new owners.
Rua Williams says it’s back to the future, with the Smurfit Consortium saying it will resume production of high quality folding box board, carrier board and food service board, dropping the liquid packaging board produced under its current owner SIG Combibloc.
He says it has been a tense few months as workers prepared for the worst.
"For a lot of our younger people who were caught up in mortgages and that, some of them were still having babies – their wives were popping al over the place. That really brought on a lot of concern not only for them but also for us. It was good we had a lot of support from the outside and I've got to do particular shout out for Rawiri Waititi and Kiri Allan. They were putting their hands out for when we were going to fall over and thank god we didn't fall," he says.
Rua Williams doubts there can be as good an outcome at the area’s mill in Kawerau, where Norske Skog is looking to shed up to 160 jobs because of a worldwide drop in demand for newsprint.
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