Mass job cuts loom at fishing company

About 200 people could lose their jobs if Independent Fisheries closes its Woolston plant. Photo / Brett Phibbs
About 200 people could lose their jobs if Independent Fisheries closes its Woolston plant. Photo / Brett Phibbs

About 200 jobs are on the chopping block at Christchurch-based fishing company Independent Fisheries Ltd, it announced today.

Citing intense competition from heavily discounted foreign-sourced product in its key markets, the firm is considering the future of its Woolston processing facilities.

A proposal under review is for the possible closure of the plant, with about 200 jobs affected, a statement from the privately-owned company said.

Announcing the review to staff at IFL's premises today, general manager Mark Allison said the move was the result of fierce competition in the market from mainly Asian-sourced processed fish products of similar quality at much lower prices.

It has caused a sharp decline in sales over the last three years, he said.

The market issues were compounded by damage to the Woolston facilities - which produces crumbed and battered fish products - resulting from the Canterbury earthquakes.

"We understand the concern that this announcement will cause for our staff, many of whom have been with us for a considerable time," said Allison.

"We will be consulting with them and their representatives. We want to ensure that Independent Fisheries continues as a viable company making a valuable contribution to the Canterbury economy, but it is clear that we cannot do so under our current structure."

The company hopes to be in a position to announce the outcome of the consultation process on November 8.

Other parts of the company will not be affected by the review, the statement said.

On its website, Independent Fisheries says it employs 350 permanent staff to service its New Zealand operations.

"The majority of the workforce is long serving employees with some reaching their 30-year milestone," the site reads.

The union representing workers at Independent Fisheries has called on the Government to back the 200 people under threat.

"These Christchurch workers have been through enough insecurity in the past two years and are devastated at the thought of losing their jobs,'' said Ian Hodgetts from the Service and Food Workers Union.

"More job losses in Christchurch should not be an option. Government needs to play a role."

Hodgetts said the union was in consultation with Independent Fisheries on the proposal.

- APNZ

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