Heinz Watties plant to can 70 jobs
It’s not just spaghetti being canned at Watties food plants in Hastings — 70 jobs have also been chopped.
Hundreds of temporary summer positions are now up for grabs, with a new recruitment company that promises to prioritise locals.
A spokesman for Heinz Wattie’s says it would need 700 seasonal workers in Hastings over the peak summer processing period, and had contracted company Kelly Services to do the hiring.
Heinz Wattie’s is the country’s largest processor of seasonal fruit and vegetables. The Hastings plant processes a wide range of crops including beetroot, tomatoes, peaches, plums, pears and boysenberries.
The company announced in March it would reduce staff numbers at the main King St site by 40, and another unknown number at its Tomoana Rd site.
The 70 redundancies that followed were all done on a “completely voluntary basis,” and had no relation to seasonal roles, it said.
E Tu¯ union manufacturing and food industry coordinator Phil Knight says while the union was sad to see any redundancies, in this instance, the company had “made the best of a bad situation”.
“The company achieved its desired result of downsizing the workforce. So those who left did so without being forced out of the workplace.”
The union had no concerns for any immediate staff reductions in the future.
“We will be continuing to watch with interest to make sure that seasonal roles and any new roles are filled initially, primarily with locals as opposed to migrant workers or those from out of town.”
Kelly Services NZ Hawke’s Bay branch and operations manager Caroline Kermode says she was “extremely excited” to be working with Heinz Wattie’s.
It was working through a transition process with Heinz Wattie’s’ current onsite workforce to ensure a smooth continuation of employment, Caroline says.
Kelly Services was also looking at how it could improve transport options to get potential workers to work.
“We are looking to the local community to fill the available roles and we will be advertising on the radio, in community papers, in supermarkets, contacting work brokers and Winz, etc, to ensure the word gets around,” she says.
In March, New Zealand’s Commerce Commission granted clearance for Heinz Wattie’s, which is ultimately owned by its Nasdaq-listed parent company Kraft Heinz, to acquire the food and instant coffee business of Cerebos Gregg’s.
The Commerce Commission’s decision is subject to a divestment undertaking from Heinz Wattie’s. The divestment includes licences for Gregg’s brand for New Zealand supply of red sauce (tomato sauce, ketchup), barbecue and steak sauce, and the F Whitlock & Sons brand for Worcestershire sauce in New Zealand.
The Heinz Wattie's plant on King St, Hastings.