23 Sep 2011

Meatworks closure puts 250 jobs in jeopardy

7:40 pm on 23 September 2011

The Alliance Group is planning to close its Christchurch meatworks with 250 jobs under threat.

Alliance has started a consultation process with its staff and unions on a proposal to close its Sockburn plant in the southwest of the city at the end of the 2012 processing season.

Alliance chief executive Grant Cuff says there is no connection between the recent Canterbury earthquakes and the proposal to close the plant.

"The plant hasn't been profitable in recent years, so the company has had a look at many options to address that lack of profitability."

Mr Cuff says the current proposal will increase the company's overall processing capacity and make it more profitable.

Beef processing would transfer to the company's plants at Mataura in Southland, and Pukeuri in Otago, where capacity is being expanded. Venison processing would transfer to a new facility to be built at the Smithfield plant in Timaru.

Workers will be able to transfer to other Alliance Group plants or take redundancy.

Meatworkers Union spokesperson Dave Eastlake says the pending closure is another blow for Canterbury and it will be difficult for employees to find new jobs in the region.

"For people who've been career meatworkers, then the opportunities are limited to moving away from Christchurch and to another area."