Sealord Spending to Keep Staff Safe

Sealord chief executive Doug Paulin

As it tries to keep them safe from the virus while at work, Nelson-based Sealord is spending up to $750,000 on Covid-19 testing of its staff.

It comes as the large seafood company seeks hundreds of workers for the upcoming hoki season, in the midst of a massive labour shortage affecting the region.

Sealord chief executive Doug Paulin said normally the company needed 300 to 400 seasonal workers for the hoki season between May and September – its busiest time for land-based manufacturing.

However, this year it was trying to get 200 seasonal workers, because the company was not confident it would be able to attract the number of workers it normally needed, Paulin said. To make up for the shortfall of workers at its land-based factories, its fishing boats would also be processing hoki at sea.

The company had a good response from a summer recruitment drive but was calling on “anyone and everyone” who wanted a job to contact it, Paulin said. There was a range of work, from filleting and trimming, to packing.

The tough labour market meant Sealord is already operating with a lot of staff vacancies – about 40 vacant roles in its wetfish factory, 20 in its coated products factory and 35 vacancies on its vessels.

“We wouldn’t normally have vacant land-based positions.”

With the New Zealand border soon to start opening in stages, Sealord is anticipating increased interest in jobs, although Paulin believed the labour scene would not really pick up for New Zealand industries until after October, when normal visa processing would resume and travellers from anywhere would be able to come to New Zealand and skip managed isolation.