Nearly half of NZ’s meat exports are at risk unless there is urgent action by government to allow migrant workers to stay in New Zealand.
That’s the warning from NZ’s meat processing sector organisation the Meat Industry Association (MIA). It claims meat processing and exporting jobs are in jeopardy unless specialist migrants are allowed to remain in the country.
“New Zealand’s meat processing and exporting sector faces being forced to limit production and let people go unless the Government recognises the essential role of its skilled migrant workforce,” MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says.
She warns that the loss of halal processing people – alongside hundreds of other essential meat workers – could result in reduced production and job losses in the sector.
Meat processing is NZ’s largest manufacturing industry and more than 45% of our total red meat exports are halal certified.
However, under the current rules, around a third of the country’s 250 essential halal processing workers will have to leave New Zealand next year due to the Government’s one-year stand-down policy.
“Most of the 42 halal processing plants in New Zealand now operate between 10-12 months per year,” Karapeeva explains. “A shortage of skilled halal processing people could result in production at many plants being limited to six months in the year, which would mean processing of livestock for farmers is severely disrupted and employees might be let go.”
She says under the Government’s one-year stand down policy, which applies to low skilled workers, 80 halal processing people and at least 260 other essential meat workers currently working in New Zealand will be forced to leave.