Alliance sheepmeat shift confirmed

20:41, Oct 28 2012

The Alliance Group has confirmed it will move its sheepmeat processing from Mataura to Lorneville.

The decision, announced yesterday, affects 325 workers and comes after a four-week consultation period between the company, its workers and the union.

All workers have been offered the opportunity to transfer to the Lorneville plant and there are also options to join the beef processing at Mataura or take redundancies.

Workers were sent an information pack and were expected to notify the company of what they want to do based on the information provided.

Beef processing will remain at the Mataura plant, where the co-operative recently upgraded its beef processing facility.

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff said all feedback and alternative options were carefully considered but no viable options arose.

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"Many employees recognise there is a significant surplus of processing capacity for the declining amount of stock available. We are now focused on working towards achieving the best outcomes for all those affected," he said.

The consultation period had been unsettling for staff but with a final decision also came a sense of certainty for workers, he said.

Meat Workers' Union Otago Southland secretary Gary Davis said it was a step forward and the feedback from workers seemed positive. "There's some good options for workers to go forward."

He spent some time at the plant yesterday and people seemed really positive, he said.

Winton sheep farmer and Alliance supplier Brian Hammond said though it was sad for Mataura workers, a change had to happen.

Mataura meatworker Neil Cowan said he started on the beef at Mataura this week after previously working in mutton.

"It hasn't sunk in that I'll be working in beef only. It's better than not working."

However, Mr Cowan said he was unsure how long the beef work at Mataura would last. terri.russell@stl.co.nz

The Southland Times