News / Blog

Up to 36 workers are losing their jobs at DTS In Normanby
March 10, 2016

Up to 36 workers are losing their jobs at a South Taranaki manufacturing plant as the dairy downturn bites.  Staff at DTS in Normanby, which manufactures agricultural products, including stainless steel milk tanks for Fonterra suppliers, were told the company was restructuring and cutting workers after a drop in orders.

Managing director Greg Muir declined to confirm the number of jobs involved because discussions were still underway with the staff at the plant.

The workers had been given until next week to decide if they wanted to apply for the remaining positions, he said.  The company, which is owned by Tru-Test Limited, would offer places at its three other facilities to staff who were able to relocate, but there were only a few vacancies.

“It’s a challenging time for all the people involved, a challenging time for our team,” Muir said.  “You never relish having to do something like this, it impacts people’s lives, and there’s genuine disappointment for us.”

Staff at the plant had been told only 12 jobs would be left out of the current 48, union organiser Ross Henderson of Etu said.

“The announcement came out of the blue this week. Our members were shocked. Thirty-six workers are about to lose their jobs in early April. That has a big effect on them and their families, there are just not the jobs around for them to find new employment.”

The workers affected were a mix of ages.

“There are a number of young guys there concerned about being able to complete their apprenticeships, they’ll all be thinking about what lies ahead for them in a very difficult and vulnerable industry. This is going to be a long hard winter for a lot of people.”

The company had asked its staff not to speak to the media, he said.

“There’s no such restraint on us. This is about people’s lives, their jobs and livelihoods, there’s not much other work in the pipeline for them to find employment. We’ve gone from headlining the rock star economy to being unable to get a gig at the Normanby town hall.”

He said Fonterra had some responsibility to assist the contractors and rural communities that had supported it through the good times.

This was the second round of losses at DTS, which last year shed between 15 and 20 staff, Muir said.

“We had hoped that would be the end of it. The way it has been explained to us, with milk volumes down, slowing demand for replacement tanks, there are pretty much no conversions going on and not a lot of amalgamations, and these were what drove vat usage.

“It’s disappointing because this is probably a window, this is not a permanent situation but Fonterra feels it’s important that they pull back back their orders and we have got to reassess our business to suit the orders we have,” he said.

Whanganui MP Chester Borrows spoke of his sympathy for the workers affected and hoped they would find other employment.

“This is the first big hit which is probably attributable to the dairy downturn to affect us locally, it’s not unforeseen that this would happen,” he said.

“I really hope the skills of these people can be used by other engineering projects we have.

“Taranaki is resilient and we have seen these troughs before and they are inevitably followed by growth, but in the meantime it’s hard for families to cope with.”

By: Catherine Groenestein


Fall 2018