Covid issues for loining plant

In this Journal file photo, two workers at Pan Pacific Foods loining plant in Majuro work on the production line. Photo: Giff Johnson.

The Pan Pacific Foods tuna loining plant said it has a minimum of five supervisory personnel that it has to get to Majuro for the plant to get into full operation.

PPF General Manager Wanjun “Young” Yang told the Journal last weekend that five of the plant’s key supervisors were out of RMI when the Covid border closure went into effect a year ago March and have been stuck outside since, unable to return to work. “We need these people to operate at a high level,” he said. Yang listed supervisors for fishmeal processing, plant maintenance, and logistics and the assistant to the general manager as the key personnel he needs to get back to work.

“I understand that the RMI has prioritized local citizens (for repatriation),” Yang said in an interview Saturday. “But we really need these supervisors.” He added: “At least give us two or three at one time, then bring the rest the next month.”

This situation “for the short-term is okay,” he said. “But if it continues in the long-term, we will break.” So far it has been 14 months.

While the fish loining plant could operate a shift with over 300 workers, currently it has only about 60 workers, he said. This reflects, in part, the lack of supervisors to oversee expanded operations, he said.

The last two quarters of 2020, PPF produced no tuna loins for export to off-shore canneries. The main reasons contributing to this production collapse was the difficulty of the PPF purse seiners accessing Majuro because of RMI Covid restrictions for port entry and the lack of supervisors, he said.

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