Gutted factory's future uncertain

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 06:56 14/01/2014
The fire-damaged Taranaki By-Products plant near Okaiawa, Taranaki.
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GUTTED: The fire-damaged Taranaki By-Products plant near Okaiawa, Taranaki.

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The future of employees at Taranaki By Products hangs in the balance after a fire ripped through the factory on Sunday.

More than 40 firefighters from around the mountain spent 40 minutes getting the fire under control. More time was spent dampening down hot spots.

The Kohiti Rd factory, near Okaiawa, has three separate sites and 50 staff worked in the damaged area.

Taranaki By Products owner Glenn Smith said he sent his workers home yesterday but they would be back in today to help with the cleanup.

Mr Smith said he was unable to comment until after the insurance assessors had been in and he had a better understanding of the situation. Taranaki fire safety officer Matt Crabtree said the fire service was still investigating the fire and would back on site today.

There had been a "couple" of fires at the factory in the past 12 months, he said.

The plant is believed to be one of the largest animal by-product processing factories in the country.

Taranaki union organiser Ross Henderson, of the EPMU, said the employer would be obliged to carry on paying staff even if they could not go into work. "The people aren't casual employees," Mr Henderson said. In the worst-case scenario, a proper notice period should be given, he said.

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