Relief at Pukeuri as work resumes

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Processing of sheep and lamb at Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant in Oamaru will recommence on Tuesday.

About 240 workers will be called back to the plant as it gears up for the important European and UK Christmas chilled lamb programme.

Although employees are back to work on Tuesday and the plant has successfully passed an audit undertaken by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), Alliance Group is still awaiting confirmation from MPI that Pukeuri’s certification to export product to China has been reinstated.

Alliance Group general manager of processing Kerry Stevens said the MPI audit had provided confidence that the changes the company had implemented were robust and the certification issue was close to being resolved.

“In the meantime, Alliance Group needs to start working toward the Christmas demand from Europe and UK for our chilled lamb, so processing at Pukeuri will resume,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that we had to temporarily cease sheep and lamb operations and we regret that this situation occurred and its impact on our employees.

“We have worked hard to resolve this situation to ensure our employees could come back to work at the earliest opportunity.”

Mr Stevens said Alliance Group had implemented a number of changes to its processes, including improving the checks on labelling requirements.

“The Pukeuri plant’s certification for China was suspended by the MPI in July after a container was shipped to China containing cartons that were incorrectly labelled,” he said.

He also confirmed that processing at Alliance Group’s Smithfield Plant in Timaru would continue.

Notification that about 240 workers at Pukeuri will be back on the job next week is ‘great news’ to New Zealand Meatworkers Union general secretary Graham Cooke.

“There will be lots of local people who will be very relieved to return to work,” he said.

“It is also good for Oamaru and the smaller towns in North Otago.”

* See page three for details on labelling problems at a second Oamaru meat processing plant.

By Jacquie Webby