Huttons worker laid off for the third time
'I just feel sad that it's come to this'MATT BOWEN
An Australian food giant has carved off its New Zealand meats business, cutting loose 125 workers, some of whom have served for more than 40 years.
Yesterday Goodman Fielder's New Zealand managing director Peter Reidie confirmed the closure of its Hutton's factory on Greenwood St in Frankton, Hamilton, after the company announced last month that it would sell to Christchurch-based Hellers.
The long-established business processes and markets smallgoods meat products to the domestic market.
Familiar supermarket names include Kiwi bacon and ham, Brooks Deli continental meats and bacon, Hutton's luncheon, bacon and ham, Sizzlers pre-cooked smallgoods and Milano cooked continental meats.
FIRST Union general secretary Robert Reid said workers were told the sale was of the brands only, and the Hamilton production site would close at the end of March.
For Glenn Bratton, an employee of 16 years, it is his third redundancy since the railways gave him the boot 25 years ago.
A spot as a sawmill kiln operator was the next job to disappear beneath his feet.
From there he went to Hutton's. Now, after a succession of different owners, he's being cut loose again.
"I'm gutted that Goodman Fielder have run a 100-year-old business into the ground," he said, nursing a post-announcement beer in his Ngaruawahia home yesterday.
"Basically over the last five years I feel like they just cut us adrift. I just feel sad that it's come to this."
The 49-year-old union delegate said not only the workers' families will suffer.
"You take 125 wages out of the community, that's a lot of money. A lot of people used to shop in Frankton - they ain't going to go there anymore."
Some employees had been at the plant for more than 40 years, he said.
In one case a whole household gets their pay cheque from Goodman Fielder.
Mr Reid said as soon as the plant closure was confirmed the workers' faces fell and their eyes looked to the floor.
Some will have the option of moving into either Hellers or Goodman Fielder's other operations, but Mr Reid said a minority would take that option as it would require a shift outside the Waikato.
In a statement, Goodman Fielder said a consortium, supported by FIRST Union, had pitched an alternative proposal to purchase the meats business, but it was rejected on a number of grounds, including a failure to demonstrate they had the required funds to conclude a deal.
FIRST Union has lodged a complaint to the Commerce Commission regarding two aspects of the sale.
It claims the merger is anti-competitive, citing Hellers' domination of the market, and a possible prohibition of the use of the Hutton's factory land and buildings for future pork and smallgoods production as part of the sale and purchase agreement.
- © Fairfax NZ News