Goodman Fielder to sell NZ meat unit

Goodman Fielder to sell NZ meat unit

Goodman Fielder will press ahead with the sale of its New Zealand meat arm to sausage and bacon supplier Hellers, union officials have said, after the Australian group rejected a rival offer for the business.

New Zealand's First Union has claimed 125 jobs will be lost as a result of Goodman Fielder's decision to rebuff a bid through the union.

Goodman Fielder entered into an agreement to sell its NZ meat unit to Hellers earlier this year. The disposal would see Hellers transfer processing activities from the site in Hamilton to plants in Christchurch and Auckland. The sale was conditional on a consultation process with workers.

According to the union, which represents 96 of the affected staff, Goodman Fielder called a meeting at 7.00 (NZDT) today (10 February) to inform workers of the company's decision.

"The staff and their union took this consultation very seriously," First Union general secretary Robert Reid explained. "The staff consultation asked Goodman Fielder to review its decision in four areas; renegotiating with Hellers to keep the plant open, re-opening bids to re-look at those bids that would keep the plant open, considering a new bid through the union that would keep the plant open or Goodman Fielder reviewing its decision to divest itself of its meat division."

While Goodman Fielder "rejected three of the four" proposals from staff, the company did agree to "allow time for an alternative bid to be worked up", Reid continued. "Workers were told by the company this morning that it would not accept the alternative bid, the sale to Hellers would proceed, the site would close and the 125 jobs would be lost."

Goodman Fielder was not immediately available for comment.

The meats unit processes Brooks Deli continental meats and bacon, Hutton's luncheon, bacon and ham, Sizzlers pre-cooked small goods and Milano cooked continental meats in New Zealand.

When Goodman Fielder signalled its intention to sell the business, the group said the move came as part of a drive to rationalise its portfolio and focus on core activities, where it has "market-leading, profitable positions".