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Tritec workers protest for redundancy

Union members at Lower Hutt manufacturer Tritec picketed the premises this afternoon after the company said it will be laying off 25 workers and will not negotiate a redundancy deal.

Tritec Manufacturing Ltd, which makes the Mountain Buggy range of strollers, announced last night 25 of its just over 100 staff members would be made redundant.

Acting chief executive Peter Robertson said 90 percent of the company's product was exported and the company had suffered badly as a result of the international downturn.

"In the past 12 months the company has lost one third of its sales and looking forward there are indications of further deterioration. As a result the factory is operating at only half its normal capacity."

Mr Robertson said there was no redundancy provision in the employment agreement with staff and any ability to pay redundancy would have to be assessed in the context of the company's position.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said today the union had worked hard to negotiate a fair deal with the company but members had lost patience.

The union has been trying to negotiate a first-ever collective agreement with the company to gain redundancy protections.

"We've tried to get a basic redundancy clause and suggested outcomes including delaying some payment until the company is back in good financial shape but this morning they shut the door on any offer of redundancy.

"We know the company is under pressure because of the markets they sell in, but there are 25 working families facing hardship at a time of year that already places strain on household budgets and some modest compensation to get them through is necessary," Mr Little said.

"This situation highlights the need for a minimum redundancy law for all workers."

Tritec presented a proposal to staff last week on the need to reduce numbers. There had been considerable consultation on the matter with both staff and the union, Mr Robertson said.

A decision on who would lose their jobs would be made over the next few days.

Earlier this year an advisory group on redundancy and restructuring, which included business and worker representation, agreed that the Government should consider a minimum entitlement for notice and compensation in redundancy.

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