Whakatane mill staff reach agreement

Wednesday 2 Jun 2021

Staff reach agreement with potential new employer - Whakatane Mill staff have reached an agreement in principle with their potential new employer and are hopeful the sale of the mill will be finalised soon too.

First Union representative Jared Abbott said staff completed their processes with the potential purchaser on Monday and have agreed to new terms of employment. He said now staff are just waiting for the potential purchaser, a consortium led by Dr Dermot Smurfit, a European investor, to finalise its agreement with the mill's current Swiss owner SIG.

"Our understanding is things are looking really positive," Abbott said.

If the mill is sold, staff have agreed to a pay reduction, but Abbot said this may be offset by the payment of a retainer which would see staff staying with the mill get 50 per cent of their redundancy this year, 25 per cent in 2022 and another 25 per cent in 2023.

"For some of the newer staff, this would be less favourable and for the longer serving staff it would be more favourable," he said, adding, "newer staff's redundancy pay-outs are considerably less."

The site hasn't been profitable for some time and Abbott said as a result staff's annual wage increases have been "quite small" of around 1 per cent. But the payment of this retainer fee for the next three years will see staff getting significantly more pay than they would usually.

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