Sanford provides some answers at meeting

A group of about 40 people headed to a public meeting yesterday in Bluff to hear more about the...
A group of about 40 people headed to a public meeting yesterday in Bluff to hear more about the potential job losses for Sanford workers. PHOTO: LAURA SMITH
At times heated, yesterday's public meeting between seafood company Sanford's workers and Sanford representatives provided some answers to questions raised.

Hosted by Living Wage Bluff, members of Parliament, members of the public and Sanford representatives were invited to discuss the proposed job losses workers faced.

Last month, Sanford employees based in Bluff were told of potential job losses when the company announced changes to its processing sites.

Its Bluff factory would focus on premium salmon production, while whitefish processing would be carried out at the Timaru site.

Sanford processing general manager Terry Denley spoke to meeting attendees and answered questions.

When a concerned meeting-goer asked if there was any chance of keeping the 30 jobs that could be lost, Mr Denley said of the 102 people on site there would be potentially 20 job losses.

"I believe it will be less than that."

Those affected had been offered the choice of taking voluntary redundancy, which included a monetary aspect based on an individual's service to the company, and these offers were to be considered.

He said the reason for the job losses was the fact the whitefish plant had had diminishing volumes for a number of years - "sometimes we go weeks without fish".

"Markets have changed ... the world has changed, the volumes of fish have gone."

The company planned to focus on salmon farming, with the potential for a new salmon factory to be built "close by" the existing Bluff factory.

Etu organiser Anna Huffstutler said she hoped they would consider that if the factory was built that jobs would be offered to those affected by the current job losses.

She said it had come as a shock to workers.

"It's been a tough three weeks since the announcement."

After the meeting, Mr Denley said it had been a difficult time but the company was generally happy with the process - and it was interesting that of the 30 people who could be affected by job losses, only four attended the meeting.

He said Sanford had taken on board feedback from those affected and was working towards finding outcomes that would be "preferable".

The final day for a decision to be made would be July 23.

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