Meat co-operative Alliance Group’s upgraded facility in Southland has started processing beef.
In a statement to Rural News, Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said the co-op had been “open and upfront” about the wage subsidy.
“We have been in ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Social Development about the application of the subsidy and stated from the outset that we would return any funds not used to pay people. In line with that commitment, we have returned $17 million of the subsidy.”
Taggart said the company’s application for the wage subsidy was supported and endorsed by the New Zealand Meat Workers Union.
“From the beginning, we have applied the subsidy to the right people in the right way,” he added.
Taggart said Alliance predominantly processes sheep and the nature of its processing means it was more severely affected by the Covid-19 operating restrictions than other companies.
“The support from the Government has meant we were able to maintain the employment of our people and ensure their earnings were not impacted during the Covid-19 lockdown,” he added.
“We were also able to continue paying those people with underlying health conditions or aged over 70 who were unable to work during the lockdown and those on stand-by to cover absenteeism.”