29 Oct 2010

Sealord deal with union likely to save Nelson plant

7:37 pm on 29 October 2010

Fishing company Sealord has reached a deal with workers which should avert the threatened closure of its Nelson processing plant and the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Sealord has been trying to save $1.8 million in annual labour costs in Nelson, saying if costs could not be cut it would be cheaper to close the plant and process fish in factory ships at sea.

However, the Service and Food Workers Union spokesperson Neville Donaldson says after nearly two years of talks, an agreement in principle has been reached on a collective employment agreement.

He said the bargaining process was opened up when, for the first time, the company committed to a long-term future in Nelson.

Mr Donaldson would not give details of the Sealord offer to workers until the workforce has been consulted, but says there will be little or no reduction in immediate earnings for workers, and an increase over the term of the agreement.

Sealord chief executive Graham Stuart says the company has not achieved annual cost savings it was seeking.

However, Mr Stuart says there have been concessions on both sides which should eventually make the Nelson plant profitable again.

Employees will be asked to ratify the agreement in the next two weeks.