Pukeuri certification issue remains unresolved

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Certification issues for sheep and lamb processed for China at the Alliance Pukeuri plant have yet to be resolved.

The plant’s certification for China was suspended by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in July after a container was shipped to China containing cartons which were incorrectly labelled.

A spokesperson for Alliance, general manager of processing Kerry Stevens, said the administration issues which arose causing the suspension of the certification for China have since been addressed.

“The labels were not put on as they should have been,” he said.

“The result of this is that 240 sheep meat workers (Number two chain) have been stood down.”

For the affected workers, the company has agreed to pay the minimum weekly payment of $525 for the whole of last week to recognise the unusual circumstances, but future financial payments remain unresolved.

Mr Stevens confirmed that Pukeuri plant management had been in discussions with the Oamaru office of WINZ.

Meantime, sheep and lamb is being processed at Alliance’s Smithfield plant which enables the company to continue to service customers in China and the Oamaru site will process bobby calves.

According to Mr Stevens, once the certification issue is resolved, the employees will be called back to the Pukeuri site.

“We are hopeful the situation will be resolved in the coming weeks,” he said.

“We regret that this situation has occurred and, of course, the impact on our employees.”

New Zealand Meat Workers and Other Related Trades Union Dunedin branch president Daryl Carran said situations such as that currently in place at Pukeuri have “created a big upheaval in the family budget”.

“We are aware that some meatworkers do have partners who are working part-time or full-time and that the job (at the works) is seasonal by nature, however, this situation will still have a major effect on local economies such as Oamaru,” he said.

By Jacquie Webby