Twelve abattoir jobs at risk as losses continue

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TWELVE jobs are to be axed at the island’s abattoir, with bosses saying that the size of its continuing losses cannot be sustained.

News of the jobs cuts came as Agriculture Minister Phil Gawne announced that further government assistance would be required to support the abattoir in the wake of the worst snowfall event in 50 years.

IoM Meats and Mr Gawne’s department are still in talks over the scale of extra funding that will be required.

John Dawkins, chief executive officer of IoM Meats, confirmed that about 12 posts would be affected throughout the business.

He said the proposed redundancies were as a result of a combination of factors - including last month’s snowfall which has devastated the farming community in the west and north of the island, and resulted in the loss of thousands of sheep and cattle.

Mr Dawkins said: ‘While the Isle of Man Government will support the business long term, it cannot sustain continuing losses of the size we have been experiencing, and it is essential that we continue to become more efficient in our working processes.

‘In addition to this, the long term reduction in supply, exacerbated by the recent weather conditions and resultant livestock losses, are also predicted to impact negatively.’

Mr Dawkins confirmed that the company was instigating more efficient working practices which would help the company to reduce the trading losses in the longer term, and protect the jobs of the remaining workforce. However, the company required a multi-skilled work force to help with this process.

Mr Dawkins declined to give details of the level of losses, while IoM Meats was still in discussions over the level of government support.

He told the Examiner that the impact on the loss of livestock from the snow would not be felt on the abattoir until July.

And he added: ‘We are working hard to minimise the impact on our employees and are consulting with them as we are required to do by employment law. Our first priority is our workforce and we are providing assistance and support to all those affected.’

Agriculture Minister Mr Gawne told Tynwald this month that it was estimated that 200 adult cattle and 8,000 sheep would be lost as a result of the snowfall – and the estimated replacement costs for livestock would be over £1 million.

Announcing a three-pronged approach to supporting the farming industry, he said the package would involve a combination of direct emergency support and interest-free or low interest loans for farmers and support for the meat plant.

For the last five years, government has given a subvention of between £300,000 and £400,000 towards the meat plant but last year, this year and next, an extra £500,000 to £600,000 was anticipated to be needed following the withdrawal of production subsidies. The calculations have had to be revised again, however, following last month’s snowfall.

Mr Gawne said there was only so much funding government could give as there were strict EU rules governing levels of state aid. He said the meat plant was now more efficient, it was ‘inevitable’ that job losses would come at some point.

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