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Webstar to close

Wairarapa’s largest printing press will be stopped for the last time at the end of the year, owner Blue Star Print Group announced yesterday.

The decision will mean 40 people – some of whom have worked at Webstar Masterton’s Ngaumutawa Rd factory for more than 30 years – will lose their jobs.

The decision, which came after a week of
consultation with staff,
is the final nail in the coffin for the printer, which began to pare back operations several years ago.

Operations manager Trevor Howard, who has worked at the factory for 25 years, said it was an “awfully sad day” for the workers.

“People are in a bit of shock, and there was talk about what they would do now,” he said.

“Other businesses in Wairarapa have offered their support; we will always try our best to place our staff elsewhere.”

Blue Star chief executive Jill Cowling said printing operations will move from Masterton to Webstar’s Auckland printing facility.

“It was a difficult and sad day for staff,” she said.

“We will be trying to support our people into new roles, and if they want to, there will be opportunities to stay at the company in a different location.”

Cowling said the closure decision has been driven by decreased customer demand, increased cost pressures, and sustainability and emissions concerns about transporting goods to and from Masterton.

Cowling said Blue Star anticipates the factory will close by the end of the year and no later than January 2024, when the lease expires.

E Tu Union negotiator Joe Gallagher said workers were “shocked but not surprised” by the announcement.

He said the union and the company will be working with staff by providing training and financial planning support to help them prepare for losing their job at the end of the year.

The plant first opened in 1979 as part of the Government Printing Office, which had more than 1000 employees in the 1980s.

It was privatised in the 1990s, and in 2020 the number of staff at the factory was halved when Webstar expanded its operations in Auckland, resulting in the loss of more than 40 local jobs.

Masterton mayor Gary Caffell said it is sad to see the factory finally go.

“I hope the company will look after the staff now that their jobs are gone; that’s the important thing,” he said.

The Times-Age is one of Webstar Masterton’s biggest clients; in response to the announcement of consultation last week, publisher Andrew Denholm said the paper was “exploring other options”.

1 COMMENT

  1. Interesting considering that gisborne herald is now going to be printed in Auckland too. How long before there is no news paper published

Comments are closed.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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