Sep 13, 2012

Job losses in the Eastern Bay of Plenty

Noske Skog (NS), the main tenant at the Tasman Mill, will halve production resulting in the loss of over 100 jobs. Small job losses have occurred across the Mill for several years. The last significant lay-off occurred in the 1990s.

What the media, and politicians for that matter, have failed to grasp is the flow-on effect the cuts will have. Support industries in Kawerau and the Eastern Bay of Plenty will have to downsize significantly. There are several engineering and construction firms in the region who rely on the health of NS and the other tenants at the Tasman Mill. With this in mind, the job losses will be well in excess of the 120 set to go at NS.

Carter Holt Harvey (CHH), who also operate at the Tasman Mill, supply NS with pulp for the manufacture of newsprint. With the downsizing at NS, demand for pulp from CHH will fall 20%, at the moment NS constitutes 40% of CHH’s demand. As a result, CHH will be forced to downsize as well. This will push job losses higher still.

The Tasman Mill is the second largest industrial power user in New Zealand. The Mill is supplied by an on-site geothermal power station. With a decline in production at NS and CHH there will be reduced demand for power. This may result in job losses at the power station (which is owned and operated by Mighty River Power by the way). Again, this would push job losses higher still.

These job losses will cut a gash in the Eastern Bay of Plenty economy. The Mill is the largest single employer in the region and the source of many of the regions middle-income jobs.

Those affected by the downsizing, and the region as a whole, are crying out for government support. However, as of today, the government has failed to respond with anything substantive other than “everything will sort itself out” and "Biofuels! Biofuels!", despite his government cancelling biofuel requirements. This response fits well with the government’s non-existent strategy for the manufacturing sector and their apathy towards provincial economies. Oh, and I’m sure their response has nothing to do with the Mill workforce been entirely unionised and nothing to do with their 50 year history of union activism.

David Cunliffe spoke to Morning Report on the issue and, in contrast with the government, discussed solutions including easing volatility in the exchange rate, thus making conditions more favourable for export. The contrast between Cunliffe and the government (and Cunliffe and his colleagues) could not be more stark.    At least the people of Kawerau and the Eastern Bay of Plenty know where to place their vote in 2014.  


  1. the job looses at tasman will not be replaced by any of the industries that Todd McClay was reported to quote he was in lala land if he thought that.The high wage jobs are lost for ever and with that the contribution to the area

  2. It's yesterday's industry, there's no point trying to save it (besides, it's not like they're exactly the most environmentally friendly production processes).

    On the other hand, what has the government done to foster growth in those areas and to diversify the demand-side of the labour market ? Nothing.

  3. Being an ex Business Analysts in the Paper industry, I struggle to understand how the Aussie mills are surviving at the cost of Kawerau (Norsk Skog Australasia is made up of 2 mills in Aus plus Kawerau). NZ has a 21% forex advantage against the Aus Mills, we have slightly better labour costs in the paper industry, better energy costs and we should still have cheaper fibre costs (News Print uses mostly TMP Pulp from Pine, surely we must have an advantage here!). The only way the Australasia Mills could beat Kawerau would be via Government help! it is a strange decision, I would have thought that Kawerau could land News Print into Aus printing presses at a lower cost than than Norske's Tasmanian Mill anyway. Aus Governement help is really the only explaination.



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