Wednesday, 03 June 2020 10:55

SFF comfortable with wage subsidy stance

Written by  David Anderson
SFF spokesman Justin Courtney. SFF spokesman Justin Courtney.

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) says it applied for the wage subsidy to ensure it could retain workers when production levels decreased by up to 50% at some of its processing sites. 

“This led to projected revenues being over 30% lower during April than the previous year, which met the criteria for being eligible for the wage subsidy,” SFF spokesman Justin Courtney told Rural News.

He says SFF also implemented significant new controls with physical distancing, hygiene practices and PPE in its plants to protect staff.  

“This slowed our production levels by up to 50% at some of our sites – though we ramped up efficiency levels across all species. Through all of this we were able to retain and pay our staff.”

Courtney says SFF worked with the support of the union through this period. 

“We committed to those employees that were still working during the Alert Level 4 and 3 periods that their pay will not be less than 95% of a normal pre-COVID-19 production day, despite lower throughputs and we also implemented a bonus for production staff.  

“For any staff that could not work at all due to COVID-19 restrictions they continued to be paid at a weekly rate higher than the wage subsidy.”  

Courtney says this covered those who were solo-carers, employees aged over 70 years and those who meet the Ministry of Health guidelines to self-isolate.

“[The wage subsidy] was applied for during considerable uncertainty for our company – both domestically around our ability to operate under Level 4 restrictions,” he added. “There was significant global market disruption for our products, with containers held-up in China, airfreights to Europe cancelled, disruptions in the Middle East and delays in containers returning to New Zealand for future shipments.”

Courtney says SFF is still monitoring its operating conditions, honouring commitments to staff and will pay any unneeded funds back. 

“We are engaging with government in order to keep them updated on our progress given the situation has been so fluid through this period.”

More like this

Meat report maps out challenges after Covid

Global markets and consumers around the world are making large shifts on how they maintain food security, purchase food and the attributes of the products they are seeking.

Meat sector takeover of wool?

A meat industry-dominated group has formed to carry out the recommendations of the Wool Industry Project Action Group report and is ready to lead that change.


Longest running ag field days all go

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, held in Kirwee on the outskirts of Christchurch, will celebrate its 70th year in March 2021 with a bigger demonstration area.


New Feds man keen to build

New Feds board member, William Beetham wants the organisation recognised for its significant contributions to NZ farming and society as a whole.


Machinery & Products

New tractor fills the gap

Deutz Fahr has introduced the new 8280 TTV, which is aimed at filling the gap between its current 7 and…

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound


OPINION: This old mutt had to have a giggle at the dig Feds recently made at the Green Party in the…


OPINION: Your canine crusader was aghast to read that the prices of zucchini and cucumbers rose more than 30% in…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter