Pukeuri problems start to hit local economy

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The temporary halt of sheep and lamb processing at the Alliance Pukeuri site has started to bite into local North Otago economies and charity assistance outlets.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chairman John Christie said the stoppage, now approaching its fourth week, is having a significant effect on the economies of service towns such as Oamaru and others in the region.

“The loss of wages is never welcome and the effect of the stoppage also starts to bite into multiple tiers, including local retailers, suppliers and even the milkman,” he said.

“People are certainly starting to feel the effect of the sheep and lamb chain being in limbo.

“However, it is important to remain positive and look forward to a solution.”

Archdeacon Bernard Wilkinson, spokesperson for the Combined Churches Foodbank, said the facility was “coping”.

“We are certainly ready and willing to assist when called on,” he said.

The stoppage of sheep and lamb processing was also raised in oral question time yesterday (Thursday) afternoon in Parliament.

Labour primary industries and food safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor asked Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy what he (Mr Guy) had to say to the 240 workers who were stood down on August 8.

Mr Guy responded that he was “aware of that issue.”

Mr O’Connor said he was very concerned that no conclusion had yet been reached and the people affected (by the stoppage) remain on stand-down.

The audit by MPI to resolve certification issues for sheepmeat to China was carried out last week.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said she had spoken to Mr Guy yesterday and reiterated her concern about Pukeuri.

“I stay in touch with the minister,” she said,

“We need to get the plant up and running.”

By Jacquie Webby