16 Feb 2016

Meat workers in limbo after sudden suspension

6:26 pm on 16 February 2016

A group of 130 meat workers in Southland are waiting for news about their jobs after being sent home suddenly a week ago.

Meat Workers Union Otago-Southland secretary Gary Davis said managers at the Prime Range Meats factory in Invercargill told the workers unexpectedly last Tuesday they were being suspended.

Control of the company was taken over by a Chinese-backed company, Lianhua Trading Group, in November 2014, with promises to expand the business and create jobs.

Mr Davis said the factory's entire workforce was sent home with no notice, no pay and no indication of when they would go back.

The union had 20 members at the plant and they were nervous, he said.

"It's probably gets more serious as the days go on when there's sort of no word from the employers whatsoever.

"Supposedly the money is supposed to be coming available - they tell us it's tied up because of the Chinese New Year, so people are just sitting back and waiting and hoping it's going to come as soon as possible."

The problems seemed to stem from some of the company's Chinese investors being caught up in turmoil on the Chinese stock market, as well as the issues over the Chinese New Year, he said.

Many of the workers lived week-to-week and were now in financial strife, he said.

The company would not comment on the situation today.

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