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Meat works in North Otago continue to battle staffing issues and one has started to give monetary incentives to keep people at work.

With the Omicrom variant running rampant throughout much of the community it is having an impact on big employers.

Oamaru Meats is trying to get more workers into its plant in the North Otago town, and is offering a $1000 sign›on bonus in an advertisement for workers. It is also offering an $80 weekly attendance bonus.

Oamaru Meats director Richard Thorp said the plant had a ‘‘very good response’’ to the initiative.

‘‘We are no different to any business current in New Zealand. Having adequate numbers of staff is a challenge and has been for some time,’’ he said.

‘‘We will be looking for 80 staff over the next 12 months, so we need to think differently how we engage new staff and if a sign›on bonus works for people, we are happy to provide.’’

Isolation requirements were having an impact on production at the BXFoods›owned plant, but the distributions had been ‘‘manageable’’, Mr Thorp said.

‘‘Never knowing what’s ahead requires planning and contingencies in place to ensure we get through the week and keep our people safe.

‘‘We are a fully vaccinated site and we rapid antigen test everyone before entering the site each morning.’’

Though much of the processing in meat works has become automated over the past few years, labour is still needed for core parts in the plants.

Alliance, which runs the Pukeuri plant just north of Oamaru, is sticking to strict guidlelines around physical distancing and testing employees.

In its latest summary to farmers, it said the Puekuri plant had been ‘‘consolidated’’ and was still processing sheep and beef. Two weeks ago, it was believed to be down to one chain in operation with no night shift or weekend work.

A vaccination clinic took place outside the plant earlier this month, encouraging workers to take the booster shot or even one of the two initial vaccination shots.

Alliance was moving stock between plants and as Omicron had been in the North Island earlier, the company’s plants in the North Island were getting staff back earlier so could take more stock.

Alliance general manager of manufacturing Willie Wiese said protocols put in place were about ensuring plants operated safely.

‘‘We are running our co› operative according to strict guidelines including physical distancing, shift ‘bubbles’, temperature checking and rapid antigen testing. The protocols we have in place are about ensuring we operate our plants safely.’’

“We can expect some ongoing disruption to processing over the coming weeks. However, we have been planning for this situation for some time and are implementing a range of initiatives to lessen the impact. We are moving livestock across our network to process our farmers’ animals as quickly as possible and manage animal welfare risks.’’

Farmers are being asked to hold their product longer until processing capacity at a plant increases.

Alliance was believed to be considering paying its workers a bonus for completing a full week without absences.