Heinz Wat­ties plant to can 70 jobs

Hastings Leader - - News -

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.

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