Goodman Fielder job losses confirmed

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 09:19 10/02/2014
Huttons
BRUCE MERCER/Fairfax NZ

CLOSURE CONFIRMED: Hutton’s factory in Frankton will close after the firm was sold to Hellers in Christchurch. All the 125 staff will lose their jobs.

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Goodman Fielder will close its Hamilton factory with the loss of 125 jobs, First Union says.

Workers were given the news at a meeting at the factory at 7am today.

Last month Goodman Fielder said it planned to sell its New Zealand meat business to Hellers.

First Union general secretary Robert Reid said there was a combination of disappointment and relief among workers of the Frankton factory today. First Union represents 96 of the 125 workers.

He said the workers were told that the sale was for the brands only and the Hamilton production site would close by the end of March.

Staff and the union had asked the company to renegotiate with Hellers or reconsider the decision to sell the meat business in order to keep the plant open, Reid said.

Goodman Fielder accepted one of the union's proposals to consider a new bid that would keep the plant open but workers were told this morning that the company would not accept the alternative bid, the sale to Hellers would proceed, the site would close, and the jobs would be lost, Reid said.

"While workers were disappointed to hear the news that the site would close and they would be make redundant, there was also relief that after a month of waiting the final decision had been made," he said.

The union and some Hamilton Councillors had also lodged a complaint with the Commerce Commission about the sale.

The complaint cited the anti-completive nature the merger and the domination of the bacon and smallgoods market by Hellers. It also cited the possible prohibition of the use of the land and buildings for future pork and small goods production by way of covenant as part of the sale and purchase agreement between Goodman Fielder and Hellers, the union said.

The Commerce Commission had not yet made a decision on the complaints, it said.

The deal with Hellers would see the production of Kiwi bacon and ham, Brooks Deli continental meats and bacon, Hutton's luncheon, bacon and ham, Sizzlers pre-cooked smallgoods and Milano cooked continental meats moved to Heller's facilities in Christchurch and Auckland.

The Frankton factory - a Hamilton icon dating to at least 1954 - will stay on the company's books as a distribution hub.

The $15 million to $17m sale is expected to be completed by the end of March.

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