Silver Fern Farms and the New Zealand Meat Workers Union (NZMWU) have today announced a lift in the minimum hourly productive rate paid to existing and new employees at all Silver Fern Farm sites to $24 per hour – an increase of almost 10 percent.
Daryl Carran, National Secretary for the NZMWU says the rate increase is an important step in addressing misconceptions of meat processing as a low-paid occupation, and in placing a higher value on starting level roles in the industry.
“Recruitment and staff retention have become issues of critical importance across the primary sector and competing industries with simpler systems of pay can appear on face value to be more attractive,” says Carran.
“The reality though is that great training and progression opportunities do exist in processing plants,” he says. “Workers can grow their skills and in time earn higher amounts, which is important as young people want to buy a house for their family,” he added.
Carran said NZMWU and Silver Fern Farms have been working together to develop options for addressing skills shortages in the sector.
“We’ve been working closely with Silver Fern Farms who is keen to prove themselves as the most progressive employer in the sector. Today’s announcement is another good demonstration of that, and a good example of how companies and Unions can work collaboratively,” he says.
Silver Fern Farms General Manager Operations, Mark Leslie, says the rate increase is the latest initiative in Silver Fern Farms’ drive to attract new workers and reward their hard-working existing essential workers.
“Today’s announcement of the rate increase is one way we are demonstrating Silver Fern Farms as an attractive option for jobseekers, and we believe our minimum hourly productive rate is now one of the leading rates in the sector,” he says.
Leslie says that while the minimum rate increase will be popular, Silver Fern Farms is also considering additional broader approaches to make Silver Fern Farms a more attractive option for work.
“In addition to this base wage increase, we’ve also started rolling out other staff initiatives such as transport options, financial advice, regular staff meat sales, and scholarships for students who are dependents of employees,” he says.
“We also know that helping our staff learn as well as earn will be a key driver for retention. That’s why we’ve started the Frontline Leadership Training programme to support the growth and progression of our people.
“We’ve extended our ‘Muster your Mates’ programme which rewards existing staff for successfully referring new employees to work at Silver Fern Farms. Livestock suppliers and salaried staff now also qualify for rewards if their mates are referred and employed,” he says.
Any prospective employees can apply at any of their local Silver Fern Farm sites, or by going to careers.silverfernfarms.com