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Summit Restores 12-hour Shifts

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A recovery in forward orders from Australia and New Zealand has resulted in Oamaru's Summit Wool Spinners Ltd reinstating normal 12 hour shifts for its 160 employees.

Last April, in the face of a major downturn in forward orders, the company adopted the Government's nine-day fortnight scheme which saved 57 jobs that would otherwise have been made redundant. A further 60 staff took voluntary redundancy at that time.

In June the plant workers received a fully paid eight-day break to create a backlog of work. Then in August, hours were increased from nine to ten hours for the four shifts.

Summit Wool Spinners Director Ricky Hammond-Tooke said the return to full hours effectively ended the company's reliance on the Government-subsidised nine-day fortnight scheme.

"The scheme was very helpful because it enabled us to come to an agreement with our staff which was acceptable to all parties and helped us through a very tough time," said Mr Hammond-Tooke

"The restoration of full hours is great news for both our workers and Oamaru, where we are the second-largest employer. What goes into our workers' pockets will be spread around retailers and services in Oamaru, and that will be good for the town."

Mr Hammond-Tooke paid tribute to Summit's owner, the Japanese multi-national Sumitomo Corporation which is based in Tokyo and which bought the company in 1992.

"Sumitomo was founded over three hundred years ago and even though this is one of the toughest times in the company's history they are standing behind us as we work through this recession.

"We also acknowledge the support of the two site unions and all our staff who have continued to support us in difficult circumstances.

"We are by no means out of the woods, but there appears to be some kind of recovery in Australia and we are hopeful of it continuing," said Mr Hammond-Tooke.

"At our staff meetings today we are saying that although this is positive news, please be cautious as we are still in uncertain times but we do expect to remain on 12 hours if nothing inhibits us in the future," said Mr Hammond-Tooke

Shifts at the mill would return to 12 hours on Monday, September 14.

Summit Wool Spinners has been owned since 1992 by the textile division of Sumitomo Corporation of Japan. The company is New Zealand's largest independent wool spinner, supplying yarn to carpet and rug-makers in New Zealand, Australia, South East Asia, the USA and Europe.

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