Pen maker Bic is moving its manufacturing operation from New Zealand to South Africa to take advantage of lower labor costs, according to a report in Stuff.
Bic has operated in New Zealand since 1956. It employs more than 8,500 people worldwide and is a leader in the stationery, light and shaver markets, the report said.
Moving to South Africa was a difficult decision, made after months of evaluating the New Zealand business, the company said. Rising manufacturing costs put pressure on the operation’s viability, the report said.
In a written statement, the company said it would continue with its other operations in Auckland, including sales, warehousing and logistics, support, finance and customer service.
Many of the Bic staff worked at the factory for decades, said Louisa Jones, organizer of New Zealand’s Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.
“It’s going to be very hard to find similar work given the state the manufacturing sector is in,” she said. “Over the last four years, 40,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared.”
About 19 of the 25 Bic factory staff are expected to lose their jobs by early 2014.