Horowhenua Workers Hit

Davbid Cunliffe
Davbid Cunliffe

Cunliffe promises Labour Govt. would do more to help

By Alan Tristram

Labour Leader David Cunliffe says workers in Horowhenua are ‘reeling’ from major layoffs at the tannery in Shannon — but the Government doesn’t care.

He says:” They’ve given up on the regions. And he promises a future Labour Government will set up community taskforces to work with commun ities after major job losses

Earlier in the week, the 86 workers who lost their jobs following the closure of the Shannon fellmongery were  warned they might have to leave Horowhenua to find work.

Workers told plant sold

Staff at the Silver Fern Farms plant were told the facility had been sold —  and would be closed by new owners Lowe Corporation.

The Meatworkers Union  said Silver Fern Farms was offering workers jobs at other plants in the lower North Island.  But it would be difficult for older workers to find employment and many would not want to move to other towns to find work.

Of the 70 meatworkers union members at the plant, 42 are from Shannon and 14 from Levin.

Meanwhile Labour’s David Cunliffe is promising that a Labour Government would step in to help workers like those in Shannon.

He says ‘Community Taskforces’will bring together businesses, workers, locals and the government to develop new opportunities to keep workers and their families in their areas.

Labour, he says, believes in listening to communities and working with them in their hour of need.

Shannon workers ‘shouldn’t be abandoned’

“People like those I met in Shannon shouldn’t be abandoned. They deserve a Government that stands with them and fights for a future for our regions,” he says.

Gavin Scott was one of two chaplains on site when the closure was announced and said Silver Fern Farms had been as good as it could under the circumstances.

“It has taken yearly wages of about $3m out of the region.

“But people have been talking. It’s good for them to talk about the closure.”

The closure will be a blow for Horowhenua, Mayor Brendan Duffy says, and the focus now should be on supporting the workers.

“Now that that decision has been formalised, the next process is to provide appropriate support to the employees into other opportunities.

“We need to understand what the options are for them to move to Hawke’s Bay, and what options there are locally.”

A support centre had been set up in Shannon to help those affected by the closure.

Guy’s view

Otaki MP Nathan Guy said the job losses would be a “big blow” to Shannon.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper says the sale will see the Shannon plant close and the company will process pelts through Lowe Corporation’s Hastings facility.

“While this is a positive from a business perspective, and for the industry overall, it’s understandably hard on our people at the plant who worked hard, and it’ll be tough on the local community.”l;