Alliance sheepmeat processing to shift to Lorneville
TERRI RUSSELL IN MATAURA
The Alliance Group will shift its sheep meat processing away from its Mataura plant in Southland, which will affect about 260 staff.
The announcement was made to workers at a meeting in Mataura today.
Chief executive Grant Cuff said 260 sheep meat processing staff and 65 management staff, supervisors, engineers and administration staff would be affected by the changes.
Sheep meat processing would be moved to Lorneville, on the outskirts of Invercargill, he said.
Workers at the meeting were shocked and many said they did not know what they would do.
Some said they expected the announcement, but thought it would only affect one shift and not both.
Many staff spoken to at the meeting were unsure if they would move into the beef section, move to Lornville or take redundancy, which would be discussed in the next few weeks.
Worker Tony King said if he didn't get into the beef section then it would mean he would be unemployed.
''I don't want to go into dairy and I don't want to go to Lornville,'' he said.
Worker Neil Cowan said ''I knew it was going to happen, it was on the cards at work for the last three weeks''.
He said workers were like a family at the Mataura plant and talked about problems.
About 750 people are employed at the plant.
The change was vital for the company, Cuff said.
''This proposal has been driven by the declining sheep and lamb numbers in the southern region and the reality is there is too much processing capacity for the amount of stock available,'' he said.
The 260 sheep meat process staff will be offered the opportunity to transfer to Lornville.
Following the $15m upgrade of the plant, beef operations will continue as a key role in their operations, he said.
The changes are expected in November.
The company has said there would be other job opportunities in coming years at other plants.
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