Nestlé’s Wiri confectionery factory. Photo / Google
Confectionery manufacturer Nestlé is proposing to make 45 staff at its Wiri factory redundant as it seeks to move production to its Allen’s factory in Australia.
The company is currently consulting with its staff over its proposal to discontinue producing its Allen’s chews lollies, manufactured at Wiri exclusively for sale in Australia, and move this to its Allen’s factory in regional Victoria.
It says its plans mean the end of confectionery manufacturing on site, however, the factory will continue to manufacture other products, and will continue as a regional hub for Maggi and its Nestlé Docello brands.
The larger part of the factory, which manufactures culinary products for retail and food service sale, is unaffected by the proposal.
Nestlé will be offering voluntary redundancies in the first instance, the company said.
Nestlé confectionery general manager Chris O’Donnell said that Nestlé regretted that the proposal would mean job losses at Wiri.
“This doesn’t reflect on the personal efforts of our staff. It has been a commercial decision made after careful consideration of the benefits of simplifying and consolidating manufacture of our Australian lollies,” O’Donnell said in a company announcement.
E tū, the union for Nestle workers, said staff at the site were “in shock” at the restructuring proposal, which if confirmed will see redundancies made in December.
The proposal is said to affect almost 40 per cent of the Wiri site’s union members.
E tū’s national executive northern region representative, Gadiel Asiata, who also works in food manufacturing, said the news would have a ripple effect on the South Auckland community.
“Nestlé is one of those companies that has supported South Auckland for a long time, and it has been the main source of income for a lot of people in that community,” Asiata said.
“It’s really sad that it’s come to this – we’re potentially losing something that generates jobs, along with workers who have been at the company for many years.”
E tū team leader Jen Natoli said the move to cull local confectionery manufacturing was reminiscent of the Cadbury closure in Dunedin in 2018, and “served as a stark reminder of yet another global corporate making a decision, without proper regard for how it affects workers.”
“The size of the confectionery manufacturing plant and the number of jobs it provides to South Auckland workers is significant,” Natoli said.
“When large companies, such as Nestlé, come into the country to do business and then leave when they find a better deal elsewhere, it can devastate local communities – especially now when we need to invest in recovery and rebuilding.”
The Herald has contacted Nestlé for further comment.
Nestlé New Zealand has 356 employees and was said to have generated US$277.8 million in 2019, according to numbers provided by E tū.