News that Hillside workers have been barred from commenting on the numerous faults found with KiwiRail's Chinese-made wagons, underlines the need for a full inquiry, says Labour MP for Dunedin South Clare Curran.
"KiwiRail workers, including those at Hillside, have been threatened with the sack if they speak out about the extent of the faults in the 300 imported Chinese wagons.
"These were chosen over New Zealand-made ones according to criteria which may have been fabricated by KiwiRail management," Clare Curran said.
"Documents released under the Official Information Act, make it clear that the price differential between the New Zealand and Chinese bids was much closer than KiwiRail let on.
"Furthermore, it has been revealed that KiwiRail's board was advised to downplay the capabilities of its own rail workshops to prevent the work being awarded to Kiwis.
"This is a betrayal. New Zealanders expect these tenders to operate in good faith," Clare Curran said.
"I understand that KiwiRail is extremely nervous about the quality of the Chinese wagons, which were brought into the country with design faults, faulty handbrakes and minimal spare parts.
"But gagging staff is not going to change anything.
"The tender process is now so muddied that an inquiry is essential. The Ministers involved have supported KiwiRail's approach from day one. They can't take a hands-off approach now details of the deal have come to light.
"In 2008, Hillside had more than 200 staff, including apprentices and was an effective, productive and skilled workforce building carriages for Auckland rail. Just three years later, Hillside is up for sale and has a workforce of 123 who are demoralised and don't know what the future holds.
"KiwiRail, driven by the expectations of the National Government has driven the business into the ground. It now thinks that gagging its workers will allow them to get away with dodgy decisions, it won't," Clare Curran said.
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