Chillers full of lamb carcasses for processing, in past times, at Silver Fern Farms' Silverstream plant. Photo by ODT.
A legal claim for redundancy payments could possibly be taken
on behalf of workers at Silver Fern Farms' lamb processing
plant at Silverstream near Mosgiel, whose season's work never
began last year.
Up to 60 of about 140 processing-related Silverstream staff
have taken up Silver Fern's offer to travel to Finegand for
work, leaving about 80 with no start at Silverstream. The
plant has in the past processed overflows of lambs and
sometimes bobby calves from, other meat works.
Nationally, this season's lamb kill is down about 1.8 million
on a year ago. The South Island's share of the decline
amounts to 1 million and Silver Fern's share is about 300,000
Further compounding the problem is China wanting larger meat
cuts or whole carcasses, which can be further processed in
The New Zealand Meatworkers and Related Trade Unions has
formally notified Silver Fern Farms it believes it may have a
legal claim to seek redundancy payments on behalf of the 140
However, the union will wait through February and possibly
March before taking any further action, as Silver Fern could
still open at some some, Otago Southland branch president
Daryl Carran said, when contacted yesterday.
''Silverstream highlights the problem across the country,''
he said of falling lamb numbers and decline in further
Mr Carran said the sector, across the country, was being hit
by overseas requirements of lamb carcass processing being cut
just six or eight ways. More mutton carcasses were going out
Mr Carran said the Asian markets were doing their own further
processing on lamb and mutton exports.
He said while 50-60 had got work at Finegand, some were
travelling up to 90km, one way, to get to the plant. For
others, bus times and rostering requirements made it
impractical to get to Finegand.
Silverstream had at times worked almost year-round, when
there were overflows of bobby calves for boning after the
lamb season, but did not start as expected last December.
Mr Carran said while it could be several weeks before a
decision was made on making a claim for redundancy payments,
the issue would be raised when talks resumed next week with
Silver Fern, on its multi-plant, South Island collective