Goulds closes doors, sends staff home

PAUL EASTON AND MICHELLE DUFF
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2012

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A meat processing plant in Lower Hutt may shut with the loss of 55 jobs.

Workers at Goulds Fine Foods in Petone were told to go home at 1pm yesterday, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union said last night.

Workers arrived at work yesterday to be told by management in a meeting that the factory would be closed, EPMU organiser Kim Ellis said.

The family-owned company is a major employer in the Hutt Valley and last year celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Ms Ellis said some of the workers at the factory had been there for 40 years, with husbands and wives working alongside one another.

"It's really sad, a lot of the staff that work there are family."

Goulds had been through some rough patches in recent years, and the management had been "overly optimistic" it could push through, she said.

"We knew the company was in some trouble, but it really was a shock today. We thought there was some light at the end of the tunnel, but at the end of the day the workers have paid the price. The company did do their best."

It was understood receivers were being appointed and the factory would cease operation.

The 41 union members were all covered by a redundancy agreement.

Graeme Reeves, Goulds' chairman, confirmed that staff were sent home yesterday, and that there was no production at the plant. He declined to comment in detail, saying delicate negotiations were continuing.

Receivers had not been appointed, he said. "The situation is still crystallising. This is not of interest today in my opinion."

Goulds Fine Foods was started by Russell and Harold Gould in 1951, behind a butcher's shop in Newtown.

In June 1993, Goulds moved to a larger, purpose-built factory in Lower Hutt, where it produces sausages, bacon and ham products, hotdogs, doughnuts, pastrami and roast beef.

Harold Gould started the firm after distributing ham and bacon to Wellington dairies for his father-in-law.

He suggested to Russell that they make sausages from trimmings bought from butchers around the city, then sell the finished products back to them.

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