Around 11,000 people whose working visas are set to expire over the 2020/21 season have been granted a new visa.
It is even more astounding given that other meat companies around New Zealand did work, at least for some period, during Easter.
This came at a time when farmers around the country are experiencing long wait times to get livestock killed, as the meat processing sector grapples with drought in many parts of New Zealand and a delay in killing capability due to the COVID-19 social distancing requirements now in place at plants.
This has been further exacerbated by several winter grazing contracts being cancelled in Southland and other parts of the country leaving farmers with nowhere for their animals to winter and now needing livestock to be killed.
With the huge backlog of stock, why did the Alliance Group chose not to work over Easter? It has left many farmers – and others in the sector – questioning the company’s logic.
Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor has claimed the company did not process over Easter to give workers ‘time with their families’ over the holidays.
No one will deny that meat workers deserve quality family time. However, this year is an exceptional period in the country’s history, with Coivd-19 reducing killing capacity and the pressure on farmers due to the reasons outlined above. And those workers would have been duly compensated with appropriate holiday penalty rates.
Surely Alliance Group could have clearly explained the situation to its workers, many of whom live in areas impacted by drought, and got them onside?
Its action – or more correctly, lack of action – over Easter begs many questions:
Did the company not want to – or couldn’t afford to – pay the penalty rates its workers would rightly deserve for working over a holiday period?
Does the company not have a good enough relationship with its workforce and/or unions to get agreement to work over Easter?
Were Alliance’s management and board unaware of the dire situation on farms around the country?
Alliance farmer suppliers deserve proper answers. The co-op has dropped the ball badly and needs to front up, quick smart.