600 job cuts at meatworks, Defence

Photo / file
Photo / file

More than 300 meat workers in Waipukurau have been made redundant today, with the closure of a boning facility in the Hawke's Bay town.

Ovation New Zealand operations will be moved to its Feilding facility, the company said in a statement this morning.

The company says portion control facility for retail and catering, storage and logistics activities will remain at the Waipukurau site.

Today's announcement follows confirmation from the Defence Force this morning that more than 300 jobs will be 'civilianised'.

Ovation said the decision comes after consultation with affected employees and their unions - and will result in redundancy payments to 304 employees, although with annual seasonal turnover of around 120 employees, the number of those affected by the closure is closer to 200, the company said.

Managing director Willem Sandberg said employees were told of the reasons behind the decision today.

"It has been an incredibly tough decision, and I'm satisfied that we have thoroughly examined all options.

"We are indebted to employees and their unions for their contributions to the process which has confirmed the location, size and layout of this boning facility have made it uncompetitive when lamb numbers have declined so dramatically."

The boning facility is currently in seasonal shutdown and will not reopen and redundancy entitlements will be paid to all the affected employees on July 6.

Defence Force cuts

Meanwhile 308 military personnel have been told today they are no longer required in uniform.

The positions are being "civilianised", meaning they will be turned into non-uniformed positions.

Defence says the affected positions include drivers, instructors, photographers, logistics and administrative personnel.

Today's 308 jobs are the first tranche of about 1000 that will be axed.

The loss of the 81 officers and 227 in other rankswas announced this morning. The cuts include 71 of 2119 from the navy, 155 of 4920 from the army and 82 of 2579 from the air force.

The cuts are the first of a series intended to remove 1000 uniformed personnel and replace them with 500 civilian staff.

A similar exercise is expected later in the year.

CTU questions Defence cuts legality

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has accused the Defence Force of abusing its special legal status in a decision to dismiss 308 uniformed workers and make them reapply for the jobs.

Its president Helen Kelly said the moves would have been illegal if not for a provision exempting the defence force from standard employment law.

She called the cuts an "outrageous abuse of power" and called for the dismissed workers to be given first priority for all jobs continuing after the restructure.

"It is clear the move from uniformed to non-uniformed personnel is being primarily driven to cut wages and conditions.

"It's fine for the Defence Force to restructure, but to then make these workers apply for their own jobs on the open market is simply orchestrating what would be an unfair dismissal in any other normal business and these men and women deserve more respect than that."

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