19 Feb 2016

Fired workers' wait for benefit shortened

2:43 pm on 19 February 2016

About 130 meat workers who abruptly lost their jobs in Invercargill will only have to wait one week to receive the unemployment benefit.

Pig carcasses hang on meat hooks at a meat processing plant.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

A spokesperson said the Meat Workers Union had been preparing food parcels for more than 130 Invercargill meat workers who lost their jobs without warning when the Prime Range plant abruptly stopped production last week.

South Otago Meat Workers Union secretary Gary Davis said most workers had expected to wait three weeks while their holiday pay cleared and the two-week stand down period had passed before they could get the unemployment benefit.

He urged the Ministry of Social Development to make it easier for the workers to receive it.

"The money's not great, and the season's aren't that long for some of them so they've generally got their wives doing some sort of part-time job or full-time job," he said.

"So, you know, when they end up out of work and their wives are still working, albeit part time, it's very difficult for them to get a benefit at all."

A ministry spokesperson told RNZ News it would now only apply a one week stand-down period.

The Ministry's regional commissioner, John Allen, said emergency assistance was available if the workers needed immediate help.

He said the Ministry had already granted hardship payments to some workers.

The union was helping those affected look for new jobs, Mr Davis said.

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