The proposed closure of Whanganui's Mars Petcare is a shock to staff and union organisers after recent investment and years of discussion about how to use it to full capacity.
About 70 of the factory's 152 staff are members of the union and they are not happy to hear that Mars proposes to close the factory completely at the end of next year, Manufacturing and Construction Workers' Union general secretary George Larkins says.
The E tū union also has a few members at Mars Petcare.
The factory has struggled to put enough product through to make its four shifts worthwhile, Larkins said. Changing to three shifts was being discussed, and people had been trying to resolve the matter for years.
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The problem has been that the parent company isn't giving Whanganui enough work, the union believes.
"There will be a whole lot of complex reasons around that."
At present the 2020 closure is only proposed, Larkins said. The workers have a process to work through and can put forward counter ideas.
He negotiates their collective employment agreement. It will expire in December and negotiations for the next period of time will give an opportunity to "improve what happens in the redundancy space".
One question will be whether those who leave early because of an impending closure will still get redundancy. Another will be how much help the company will give workers in finding new jobs.
Union members already have a "fairly generous redundancy agreement", and the individual contracts of non union members will be be based on the same provisions.
Larkins will meet with union members on October 9-10.