Tui brewery staff in shock as DB proposes cuts to nearly two-thirds of jobs

DB entered a consultation process today with the 37 staff on a proposal to spend $4-5m replacing the brewery with a much smaller capacity one.

Staff at DB's iconic Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka are in shock after learning that nearly two-thirds of them, including two workers who have been there more than 40 years, may lose their jobs.

DB, owned by Dutch-based Heineken, entered a consultation process today with the 37 staff on a proposal to spend $4-5 million replacing the brewery with a much smaller capacity one. It will also undertake earthquake strengthening of the historic seven-storey Tui brew tower, no longer in use, which was built in 1931 so brewers could use gravity to turn malt into beer.

If the proposed redevelopment goes ahead, up to 13 fulltime and 11 part-time jobs would go, although DB said in a statement the exact numbers won't be finalised until staff provide feedback and the consultation is concluded next week. Any changes won't take effect until May next year.

DB won't say how much smaller the new brewery would be or what had sparked the proposal. The Tui brewery HQ tours, which currently attract 40,000 visitors a year, will continue.

Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union organiser Ruth Sproston said staff had been expecting some job lay-offs because of a significant downturn in consumption since the new drink drive limits were introduced last year.

"The fact that this has not been put to them is not a shock but it will still take a little bit of processing," she said. Some staff had been there more than 30 years and a couple more than 40 years, "which you don't find very often in New Zealand companies anymore," Ms Sproston said.

The Tui brewery was opened in 1889 by Henry Wagstaff and onsold in 1903 to Henry Cowan who developed the prize-winning East India Pale Ale. DB bought the brewery in 1969 and expanded its business outside of its traditional Wairarapa-Hawke's Bay base.

The brand is best-known for its humorous "yeah right" billboard marketing campaign which started in the 1990s.

(BusinessDesk)

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