Tiwai Smelter and 800 workers left in limbo

 Workers at Tiwai smelter and the people of Southland have once again been left in limbo over their future in the ongoing debacle over whether the plant stays open, says Labour’s Leader Andrew Little. 

“It’s not good enough that after two years of negotiation between Meridian Energy and Rio Tinto there is now another delay until August.

 “The 800 workers at Tiwai deserve better as this whole mess has been created by the Government’s inept negotiations in 2013. 

“They used taxpayers money to bolster Meridian Energy which was about to be sold off as part of the Government’s asset sales programme. 

“We must never allow the events of 2013 to happen again. That brazen exercise in corporate welfare saw Rio Tinto get $30 million, its notice period halved and cheaper electricity. 

“Tiwai Point is just another example of the Government’s terrible negotiating skills. We have seen it again and again with SkyCity, Warner Brothers and the State Housing sell off. 

“The final deal gave RioTinto a much faster exit clause guaranteeing  just 15 months' notice rather than the previous three years in the contract. 

“Despite years of warning that jobs could be at risk in the Southland region, the Government has done little to support and diversify its economy. In particular Southland’s roading network has been neglected limiting its ability to trade and costing jobs.

 “Southland has many other industries which have potential but they have had little support including agriculture and high-value food production, forestry and wood manufacturing, a growing high tech industry, and other manufacturing. 

“The Government must front up with a plan that will help the people of Southland if these jobs are lost,” says Andrew Little.