Alliance may pay off 223 staff

TERRI RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 13/11/2012

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Alliance Group has confirmed it will make redundancy payments to 190 employees displaced by the closure of its sheepmeat processing plant at Mataura but the figure may rise to as many as 223.

The jobs of about 260 sheepmeat workers and 65 management and supervisory staff were put on the line when the company last month confirmed it would move its sheepmeat processing from Mataura to Lorneville.

Sheepmeat workers were asked if they wanted to transfer to the company's Lorneville plant, join the beef processing at Mataura or take redundancy.

Alliance Group general manager of processing John Brader said some sheepmeat workers had since moved on, leaving 221 who were given the three options, with 128 choosing redundancy, 60 taking up the option to transfer and others joining the beef processing at Mataura.

Mr Brader said the 190 confirmed redundancies could rise to 223 because the company still had to follow up with 33 sheepmeat workers who had not responded to the offers.

Of the 65 management and supervisory staff, 62 would be offered redundancy payments and the remaining three were being retained.

"We don't wish to disclose the cost of the redundancies due to commercial sensitivity," he said.

Workers transferring to Lorneville were expected to start by early to mid-December when all chains were operating, he said.

The company would try to give Mataura workers "their job of choice" and they would get paid the same rates as existing workers but would have reduced seniority.

Another 162 beef night-shift workers at Mataura were asked if they wanted to transfer to sheepmeat processing at Lorneville, before their shifts started at Mataura, to give them a longer season, Mr Brader said. Of those beef workers, 75 chose to transfer.

The redundancy announcement came less than a week after Alliance Group reported a $50.8 million net loss for the year ending September 30 - its first operating loss in 20 years.

The decision to stop sheepmeat operations at the Mataura plant set the company back $13.5m in restructuring costs.

Meat Workers' Union Southland representatives could not be reached for comment yesterday.

terri.russell@stl.co.nz

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