Eight Months After Denial Is Silver Fern Farms To CLose Fairton?
Following accusations of closure and just eight months after Rob Hewett, the chairman of Chinese-controlled Silver Fern Farms said there was no plan for close of any of its plants, Ashburton’s Fairton plant looks likely to be the first to be axed with a staff meeting called for Wednesday.
“Last September and just before the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) green-lighted this Chinese takeover of New Zealand’s largest meat exporter, Silver Fern Farms had already earmarked Fairton to close,” says New Zealand First Leader and Northland Member of Parliament Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“Less than a year ago the Chinese buyers of Silver Fern Farms were briefing their shareholders about Fairton and Waitane’s closure.Where did the Chinese buyers of Silver Fern Farms get that information? No less than Silver Fern Farms itself.
“Elevenmonths on and a staff meeting has been called at Fairton. Optimists might say this is about expansion but realists will see this for what it is; either major retrenchment or outright closure.
“The problem for Silver Fern Farms is that you cannot trust what they say.
“Last June, the company’s CEO Dean Hamilton said: ‘All of our 19 plants have been operational this year, other than the announced decision to relocate venison processing from Islington to Pareora due to our lease expiry, there has been no decision taken by the company to do anything differently next year at any plant.’
“However, in October 2016 and just one month after getting OIA clearance, Silver Fern Farms closed the plants in Mossburn, Southland and at Wairoa in Hawke’s Bay.
“Silver Fern Farms Fairton has been subject to death by a thousand cuts. Last June its bobby calf operations were transferred to SFF’s Pareora plant near Timaru. Then last November, Fairton’s No 2 chain was shut as Pareora’s expanded.
“They should not be allowing workers and Mid-Canterbury to go through such long drawn out agony,” says Mr Peters.