SFF calls meeting with Silverstream meatworkers

Silver Fern Farms has called a meeting today of 300 workers at its Silverstream lamb cutting plant near Mosgiel, but the Otago Daily Times  understands the plant is not going to close.

Up to 300 people work at the North Taieri plant in the peak of the season, and while the exact nature of the meeting was not clear last night, its immediate future appeared secure.

Meatworkers union officials were in the dark as to the nature of the meeting, but were confident the former Fortex meat plant would not close. SFF chief executive Keith Cooper declined to comment.

The plant processes and packages lamb carcasses from SFF works at Waitane (near Gore), Finegand (near Balclutha) and Pareora (near Timaru) for shipment to international markets and has been fitted out with some of the latest robotic technology.

New Zealand Meat Workers Union Otago president Daryl Carran had no idea what was in store at today’s meeting.

“I’m not sure what we’re expecting. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Workers were nervous given SFF had embarked on Project Right Size, which aligned processing capacity with livestock supply and looked at the way the company did business.

The project has seen the company quit some non-strategic assets, such as part ownership of its Dunedin head office and overseas businesses and offices, and the closure of deer processing plants at Burnside and the Waikato, the Oringi sheep meat plant in the Hawkes Bay and a lambskin processing business in Balclutha.

Plant closures have so far resulted in the loss of more than 600 positions, but Mr Cooper has said the project was coming to an end.

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