Plant workers in limbo

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After almost three weeks, sheep and lamb processing at the Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant remains on hold.

Alliance Group general manager Kerry Stevens said the Alliance is continuing to work hard to get the situation resolved.

The processing lines for sheep and lamb at Pukeuri were temporarily halted earlier this month when the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) suspended the plant’s certification for China after discovering product from Pukeuri was shipped to China without correct labelling.

China requires a label on both the inside and outside of the carton, but the cartons in question were only labelled on the outside.

Mr Stevens said the problems relating to the labelling have since “been dealt with”.

MPI conducted an audit of the Pukeuri site last Wednesday, however, the Ministry is yet to release the results of the audit.

New Zealand Meatworkers and Related Trades Union general secretary Graham Cooke said he was also awaiting the outcome of the audit.

“Like everyone else, we look forward to hearing from MPI,” he said.

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton said the situation was very difficult for the families involved.

“They would have planned their household budgets on the basis of the expected level of income,” he said.

“The situation is certainly having severe consequences.”

The suspension of sheep and lamb processing at Pukeuri has affected about 240 employees.

Sheep and lambs which are usually processed at Pukeuri have been redirected to Alliance’s sister site, Smithfield, in Timaru.

The certification suspension has not affected processing of bobby calves at the Pukeuri site.

By Jacquie Webby