Rio Tinto’s New Zealand smelter to axe jobs

Rio Tinto's New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) has announced it will axe 100 jobs by November.

The company, located on Tiwai Peninsula, said it is faced with unprecedented challenges in aluminium industry, and confirmed that 35 jobs had been cut through natural attrition.

The company’s spokeswoman said “the aluminium industry is facing challenges due to low international metal prices being exacerbated by a strong New Zealand dollar and the company had begun meetings with staff about the cuts, which could include forced redundancies," according to

“In New Zealand dollar terms, the metal prices are almost at a 25 year low.  It's actually much lower than during the global financial crisis,” she added.

“NZAS is facing tough economic headwinds, therefore it is imperative that we take urgent action right across our business to make the smelter resilient in any mHobbsarket conditions,” Ryan Cavanagh, general manager said.

“The decision to bring forward plans to reduce the size of our organisation has not been taken lightly. We will ensure all impacted employees are being provided the appropriate support,” Cavanagh added

He went on to say “the smelter will work to redeploy employees to vacant roles within NZAS and also support employees to explore redeployment opportunities within Pacific Aluminium and Rio Tinto.”

According to the Engineers, Printers and Manufacturers Union (EPMU), NZAS had previously warned staff in disestablished positions that if they did not accept a redeployment elsewhere in the business, they would face redundancy without compensation.

“The company today announced that the affected staff would be paid compensation of two weeks for every year they had been employed, up to a maximum of 52 weeks pay,” the union said.

EPMU Southland organiser Trevor Hobbs said “I don't know what the reaction will be from my members down there. I imagine for some it will suit them just fine, but I imagine for the vast majority of workers they will be concerned about their ongoing employment opportunities.”

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