The proposed closure of the Dunedin Cadbury’s factory early next year is prompting “broad and wide-ranging” discussions, Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan says.
He said one way of continuing these discussions included a meeting yesterday with a variety of business organisations and government representatives,
Mayor Dave Cull said the meeting’s attendees included representatives from the Employers Association, Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Dunedin, a couple of MPs, Ministry of Social Development and Inland Revenue Department representatives, the union E Tu spokespeople, Cadbury management and a couple of city councillors.
Mr McGowan said the chamber was “working very closely” with Cadbury’s management to determine how the management and the chamber could support the employees.
“They are categorically telling me that even though this is a really hard decision, they’re going to try [to] look after their staff the best they can.”
He said other organisations involved with the chamber had offered to run seminars and approached him about how they could support Cadbury workers.
“We want to be part of that solution and whether that’s around training, reskilling people or whether it’s putting them in contact [with other businesses].”
He said the city’s business industry was “extremely resilient and supportive of each other” but other options for the workers could include a “regional approach”.
There was a “skills shortage” in Balclutha and Central Otago and “multiple” buses transported workers to and from there daily, so that was an option for employees.
“If they can stay in this area of the South Island, then that’s going to be great for us.”
Mr Cull said the meeting yesterday was important, so those involved could have “a common understanding” of the situation.
He understood the reason for the factory’s closure was that it would be “an impossible task” for the factory to reach the turnover targets set by Mondelez International.
However, working on re-employment strategies and ways to support all the staff before the closure in 2018 was of top importance, he said. “It’s the whole team that’s affected by this, it’s not just the workers … the whole team from [the top] down is going to be affected by this.” Mr McGowan had a similar viewpoint.
“We want this factory to continue working until they close the gates, because that’s 365 people’s jobs.”