By Patrick Avenell

NEW ZEALAND: In a bid to save jobs amid the current economic crisis, Fisher & Paykel has reduced working hours at its Auckland refrigeration plant.

From April through September 2009, affected Fisher & Paykel staff will work 35 hours per week under the New Zealand Government’s 9-day fortnight scheme. This arrangement was organised by Fisher & Paykel and the Engineering, Print and Manufacturing Union (EPMU).

Under the new agreement, employees will work 35 hours per week. This will be supplemented with an additional 3.5 hours pay from the New Zealand Government’s 9-day working fortnight scheme and company contribution. A further 1.5 hours may be taken as annual leave to maintain salary levels.

In order to diversify skills at the company, staff will undertake 3.5 hours of “up-skill training” per fortnight.

Speaking about this announcmement is Fisher & Paykel CEO and managing director, John Bongard.

“These are exceptional times and it is tremendous to see all parties working together to come to a satisfactory solution.

“This situation has come about by the recent decline of global demand, combined with entering our traditional off peak manufacturing winter season.

“With the Government nine-day fortnight subsidy, assistance from our employees and the EPMU, along with a contribution from the Company, we are able to retain the current staffing levels and avoid immediate redundancies.”