A public meeting will be held tonight over concerns that emissions from a kiln at Pan Pac's Napier mill pose a health risk to workers and nearby residents.
Greens MP Catherine Delahunty and representatives from First Union will attend tonight's meeting at the Bay View hotel at 7pm.
On March 3, 85 First Union members from the lumber division at Pan Pac issued a health and safety strike notice, after four of their co-workers were hospitalised.
Union general secretary Robert Reid said the strike action was in response to "repeated health and safety issues" with the company’s new thermally modified timber kiln.
“The kiln was introduced in April 2014, but a year later workers and the neighbouring community reported outbreaks of rashes, breathing problems and other ailments that they feared were linked to emissions from the kiln,” he said.
WorkSafe issued Pan Pac with a prohibition notice and the kiln was shut down for testing, he said. It resumed operating but on February 23, Reid said the kiln "malfunctioned and emitted toxic fumes that hospitalised four workers
"One worker even became unconscious,” said Reid.
First Union organiser Mike McNab said although the offending kiln was currently under lockdown pending an investigation, union members had lost all confidence that the kiln was safe.
PanPac is owned by the Japanese company Oji Paper.