It’s disappointing to see Don Page defending Inghams’ mass sackings. Not because he’s standing up for a big company rather than for workers (after all he is a member of the Nats); it’s disappointing because he has swallowed the company line that somehow the wastewater situation has changed since last year when the employees were assured their jobs were safe, and that the issue is being portrayed as jobs versus protecting the environment (in this case the Belongil-Cumbebin wetlands).
As past chair of two water committees of Byron Council over some eight years, I am well aware of the attempts by the previous owner (Sunnybrand) to address their wastewater treatment problem. Applications to construct better treatment facilities were submitted to Council and languished undetermined for years in the ‘too-hard’ basket.
When Council constructed the $45m new sewerage plant at West Byron, capacity was added to allow for a connection from the chicken processing works, and a price calculated. However the connection has never proceeded.
Presumably Inghams knew of the history and their options when they bought the site – they would have been careless indeed not to have done their homework. One can only conclude that the state agencies entrusted with protecting the environment are toothless tigers that chickened out when it came to being firm, and that industrial workers in this country are a vulnerable species.
Richard Staples, Talofa