The fate of the Silverstream lamb cut processing plant near
Mosgiel is still unknown.
The lack of information is ''unsatisfactory'' and ''can't go
on'', New Zealand Meat Workers Union Otago Southland branch
president Daryl Carran says.
The Silver Fern Farms-operated plant's lamb cut season
generally runs from December to May.
However, about 150 lamb cut workers at the plant were told in
November the season would not start last month as usual and
were offered positions at the Finegand plant near Balclutha.
Silver Fern Farms operations manager sheepmeats and venison
Wayne Shaw said when contacted yesterday ''no date [had been]
set or decision made'' about the opening of Silverstream this
He was ''still working on the basis'' the workers would start
work ''later this year or early next year'' and there were no
plans to close the plant ''at this time''.
About 70 Silverstream workers were ''redeployed'' at the
Finegand plant, while about 85 workers had turned down the
opportunity, he said. Mr Carran said the situation had ''left
everybody in the lurch''.
''From the union's point of view, workers need to know where
they stand and they [Silver Fern Farms] can't keep saying
`the plant isn't going to open at this point in time, but we
will let you know in the future'. They can't keep doing
that,'' he said.
''You can't have a plant not operating for a season a year
and say `come back later on'.
''The meat workers have been left in a very grey area and
that just can't carry on.''
Mr Shaw said the Silverstream staff who were working at
Finegand, as well as those who chose not to redeploy, were
''still on our books'' if the company did open Silverstream
in the future.
''We would expect if we started up Silverstream, those 85
[people who did not take positions at Finegand] are likely to
come back. Of course, we don't know until that happens,'' he
Staff could be redeployed at Silverstream ''based on our
requirements, but it's pretty hard to predict what might
happen'', he said.
Silver Fern Farms had also restructured the management of the
two plants and four people were made redundant in a move
which reduced Silverstream's salaried staff from 15 to seven
and brought the management of Silverstream under Finegand.
The management changes would have occurred ''regardless of
the issue we have of the season not having started yet'', but
this season's difficulties had ''forced our hand'', Mr Carran