ZB

Westland suspends Gloriavale milk collection

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Jun 2022, 1:53pm
Westland Mik said it will suspend milk collections indefinitely from Gloriavale farms. Photo / Supplied
Westland Mik said it will suspend milk collections indefinitely from Gloriavale farms. Photo / Supplied

Westland suspends Gloriavale milk collection

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Jun 2022, 1:53pm

Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products said it would stop collecting milk from Gloriavale-owned dairy farms, effective from June 13, to coincide with the end of the current milking season.

Westland chief executive Richard Wyeth said milk collection from the West Coast Christian community had been suspended indefinitely.

The move follows an Employment Court ruling, which found that members of the community who worked up to 70 hours a week for years were not volunteers, and that employment standards should be enforced.

The court found that three former members of the community were employees from the age of 6 until they left.

"Gloriavale would need to demonstrate it can adhere to the standards and values of not only Westland, but the standards and values of the wider New Zealand community as well as our customers before any resumption at a future date," Wyeth said in a statement.

Westland said last month that it was "wholeheartedly committed to the rights of children" and "the freedom and dignity of everyone involved in our supply chains".

"We welcome the decision of the Employment Court which, as a consequence, will further support New Zealand companies to protect the rights of children, employees and others across the entire supply chain," the company said then.

Dairy farms controlled by Gloriavale, like all Westland suppliers, are contractually obliged to comply with New Zealand employment law and standards, and to keep up-to-date employment records.

Failure to do so could lead to termination of that contract, Westland said.

Westland said the suspension of milk from farms controlled by Gloriavale would have minimal impact on its operations.

Dunedin-based Silver Fern Farms - New Zealand's biggest meat company - said last month that it would no longer be working with the community.

Late last month, two of the most senior leaders at the Gloriavale Christian Community, Fervent Stedfast and Faithful Pilgrim, resigned.

Stedfast was accused several times at the Employment Court hearing of failing to properly handle issues around employment during his time as financial controller.

Pilgrim resigned as principal of the Gloriavale Christian School in 2020 over his failure to protect children in his care.

Westland Milk is owned by the Chinese dairy giant Yili Group.