Media Release: Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union
New Zealand needs a national manufacturing strategy to drive economic growth and provide secure, well-paid jobs for New Zealand workers, the EPMU told the Parliamentary Inquiry into Manufacturing [on Monday].
EPMU national secretary Bill Newson told the inquiry the hands-off approach of the last 30 years had left the manufacturing sector in crisis and a more active approach was needed.
“There is a jobs crisis in New Zealand and we need to face it head-on”, he said. “We need urgent action to protect jobs now, and we need a plan to grow the New Zealand manufacturing sector into the future.
“In the last four years New Zealand’s manufacturing sector has lost 40,000 jobs, and in 2012 alone our union was notified of redundancies by an average of two companies a week.
“These redundancies aren’t just statistics, they are real people living in real communities with real families to support. For many manufacturing workers facing redundancy the only options are low-paid, insecure work or to join the exodus of Kiwis leaving for Australia.
“If we are going to build an economy that provides good, secure, well-paid jobs then a thriving manufacturing sector has to be at its core. We have seen that leaving it to the whims of the market doesn’t work.
“It’s time for a more active approach, and that means taking action on our overvalued and volatile exchange rate, supporting Kiwi jobs through government procurement policies and taking a more hands-on approach to develop our manufacturing sector.”
Mr Newson said a New Zealand manufacturing strategy should include:
• Active support for the manufacturing sector through a range appropriate taxation and investment policies, including policies that drive investment in research and development.
• Higher commitment to skills development, with government supporting the manufacturing sector to ensure the creation and retention of a skilled workforce.
• Action to lower and to stabilise the exchange rate, which is hurting New Zealand’s manufacturing sector. The Government must investigate ways of balancing our exchange rate to retain economic competiveness.
• Procurement policies for government agencies that support New Zealand manufacturing. The flow-on effect of buying locally must be factored into any bids received and bottom-line cost cannot be prioritised over the local economic benefits of supporting local industries.
• Policies that enhance support for manufacturing enterprises in provincial centres as part of an overall manufacturing strategy.