Over 100 local people attended a Timaru public meeting on the future of the port of Timaru on Thursday 17 September.
The meeting was called by the Maritime Union of New Zealand following a decision last month by Fonterra to stop exports from the port of Timaru, which has resulted in a massive loss of work for the port.
Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the meeting was a success.
He says there is a recognition that the port is a vital part of the local economy and cannot be allowed to fade away.
Speakers included representatives of the Maritime Union and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, both of which represent port workers.
Other speakers included Labour Party transport spokesperson Darren Hughes MP.
Timaru District Mayor Janie Annear attended the meeting along with several local councillors. The Mayor contributed to the meeting as did Timaru Port Company CEO Jeremy Boys.
Audience members included workers, farmers and local businesspeople.
He says there was a unanimous support from the meeting for a motion from the local branch of the Maritime Union that pressed for the need to preserve local jobs and regional economic development and requested a meeting be set up between local representatives with the Minister of Transport and Fonterra.
A steering committee has been established with representatives from unions, business and local government to carry out these tasks.
Mr Hanson says one of the themes that came out of the meeting was concern about Fonterra’s actions and a sense that the Timaru district deserved a better deal for its considerable contribution to New Zealand’s exports.
He says that there is considerable goodwill in the community who understand the importance of the future of the port to Timaru.