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Sealord Fish Processing Job Loss Tragedy can be Stopped

30 September 2014

NEW ZEALAND - The union which represents fish processing workers is calling on the Government, Sealord and Iwi to work with the union and other interested parties to keep jobs in Nelson.

Service and Food Workers Union Assistant National Secretary, Neville Donaldson, said a Sealord proposal announced it would restructure wet fish processing would cause the loss of 100 jobs from its Nelson factory if it went ahead, reports Voxy.

"That will be a tragedy for those workers, their families and the Nelson community and the saddest thing is that it is preventable."

Neville Donaldson said New Zealand’s fish resource belonged to all New Zealanders and it brought huge employment potential.

"Protecting the resource and the employment opportunities needs a commitment from Government, business and Iwi," he said.

Neville Donaldson said government inaction on manufacturing was largely to blame.

"Government has failed to support the local value-added manufacturing we need in fish processing to realise the potential of our fishing asset and the high dollar has undermined one of our best exports," he said.

"The Government must do more to protect New Zealand jobs."

Neville Donaldson said Iwi also had a role as the fishing workforce has traditionally employed significant numbers of Maori workers and this move flies in the face of hopes for career paths for young Maori in particular.

"Our fishing industry is too important to just let this happen. All parties need to work together to restore career opportunities in our fishing industry," he said.

Neville Donaldson said the announcement was part of a disturbing trend in food processing.

"Two hundred jobs gone at Christchurch’s Independent Fisheries in December, 125 at South Auckland’s Cerebos Greggs, more set to go at McCains in Hawkes Bay and now Nelson. These are huge hits to local communities and other jobs just are not there," he said.

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