Fellmongery closure expected to hit town hard
The axe that has been hanging over 86 workers at Shannon's fellmongery for weeks is set to fall on Monday, with fears the job losses will inflict serious damage on the local economy.
The workers have been in a state of flux for the past three weeks, as Silver Fern Farms was to announce the plant had been sold to Lowe Corporation on September 30.
The company previously said the sale would see all its pelts toll processed through Lowe's other factories, and it was likely the Shannon plant would close as a result.
But negotiations between the two firms have dragged out longer than expected, and no alternative announcement date had been given.
Silver Fern spokesman Justin Courtney said there was not yet a signed agreement between the companies, but staff were being called to a meeting on Monday "regardless of the outcome" because of the uncertainty the extended negotiations had created.
The Manawatu Standard understands the 86 staff at the factory will be told it has been sold, and their jobs will be gone with it.
Newly-elected Miranui ward councillor Ross Campbell, who was a chaplain at the fellmongery for many years, said staff at the plant had been talking to him about the situation.
"They are all expecting it to close," Mr Campbell said.
Shannon had gone through a phase of solid growth in the past few years, but the closure of the fellmongery would hurt the Horowhenua town, he said.
"It's going to leave quite a hole in the economy.
"What happens when these places close is people have to find work, and that's probably going to be outside Shannon and they're probably going to move away."
Mr Campbell said he was already looking for other big businesses to move to the area, but it would take time and hard work to get them there.
Horowhenua was a growing area, with census figures recording population growth of 0.8 per cent from 2006 to this year, but jobs were needed to improve that, he said.
"We are moving ahead but we still need employment to keep the young here."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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