Fonterra job losses a massive blow to Waikato

The potential loss of up to 114 jobs from Fonterra’s Canpac plant in Hamilton is a massive blow to the Waikato region which has already lost hundreds of jobs, Labour says.

Labour’s Social Development spokesperson and Hamilton-based list MP Sue Moroney says the job losses will hit families hard and take money out of the local community.

“Most of these workers will have children to feed and rent or mortgages to pay. These families will now struggle to make ends meet after losing what is likely to be their primary income source.

“With the Waikato facing high unemployment at 7 per cent -- above the national rate of 6 per cent -- these workers will find it tough to get new jobs. Hundreds of Waikato workers have lost their jobs in the past few years including those from Solid Energy, Carter Holt Harvey and Goodman Fielder’s Huttons Division. A further 180 jobs will be lost at AgResearch at Ruakura next year.

Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson Grant Robertson says Fonterra is facing tough times with falling milk prices and increasing competition for dairy products in the international market.

“These job losses highlight the risk the current Government is taking in allowing our export base to narrow. New Zealand must not be so reliant on one industry.

“Exporters are also hurting because of the Government’s hands off approach to curbing the high dollar. Questions must be asked about whether these jobs are being lost because our overvalued dollar is squeezing out manufacturing in New Zealand.

“New Zealand needs a government that gets behind the regions. Our Regional Growth Plans announced yesterday, including a new $200 million Regional Development Fund, will boost infrastructure and industry projects to create an economic step-change for our regions,” Grant Robertson says.