A big crowd braved a cold Dunedin Saturday afternoon to show their support for forty workers at the city's Hillside rail workshops whose jobs are under threat.  
Government-owned Kiwirail wants to lay off these highly skilled workers -  people who can build and maintain the rail transport that this country desperately needs to reduce its carbon emissions and its dependence on oil.

I was privileged to be invited to speak on behalf of Greenpeace at the rally and our message was extremely well received.

Looking out at the crowd, I could see many signs with slogans like "green jobs now" and "keep green collar jobs", while children held placards saying "give me a future". 

And that pretty much sums up why Greenpeace is supporting this campaign.

We believe that the jobs under threat at Hillside, and at Kiwirail's workshops in Lower Hutt, are not the jobs of the past - they are the jobs of the future.

There is a huge change going on in the global economy, and our Government and our Minister of Transport don't seem to get it.

The major growth industries of the 21st century will be in "clean-tech" - the types of businesses that will help the world address the big issues it faces - energy scarcity and climate change.

Just last week, some of New Zealand's leading businesspeople launched the "Pure Advantage" campaign, calling on our Government to transform our economy through protecting and building on our "clean green" competitive advantage.

This is what they have to say:

"New Zealand's economic and environmental performance is sliding, and with it our single greatest opportunity to lead the world.  It's ours for the taking if we can improve our green credentials, foster our high value exports and build industries that will thrive in a rapidly changing global economy."

Rail transport is one of those industries.  Every load of freight that goes on a train rather than a truck reduces oil use, as does every commuter who gets on train rather than using their car.

That's why I'm staggered that Steven Joyce is refusing to support much needed rail projects like Auckland's underground rail loop, while killing the very "green collar" jobs that this country needs to prosper in the decades ahead.

Joyce, and Kiwirail CEO Jim Quinn still have an opportunity to change their stance and save these jobs.   If they do so, it could be a real turning point in this country's journey towards building a truly sustainable economy.

Take action: Send your own message to Steven Joyce