Meatworks to shut with workers’ shifts already cut
THE JBS Dinmore meatworks, one of the Ipswich region’s largest employers, will shut for two weeks in another blow to the more than 1700 workers on site.
The plant will close for a fortnight from August 24 with workers already struggling with shifts cut over the past couple of months.
Meat workers have mostly been working three-day weeks over the last several weeks and have been told by management it will stay that way until Christmas.
The company is unable to access the JobKeeper scheme to support its Ipswich staff.
Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union Queensland branch secretary Matt Journeaux said the closure was “devastating news” for local workers.
The Dinmore processing plant is the largest beef plant in the southern hemisphere with a daily production of 3,400 head a day, according to JBS.
Mr Journeaux said workers were “stuck between a rock and a hard place” as they couldn’t access JobSeeker either as they’re still employed.
“They’re struggling because they’ve been stood down on regular days for the last six or seven weeks,” Mr Journeaux.
“To be stood down for a two-week period when coming close to Christmas is devastating news for those people.
“Workers at the plant have endured stand downs over many weeks that have seen their incomes slashed by 40 per cent.
“These people need support.
“I’m really hoping the government can get their head around it and work out a solution for these people to help them pay the bills and just give them a little bit of money in their pockets.”
JBS has an annual turnover of more than $1 billion but has not experienced a 50 per cent loss from the start of March to qualify for JobKeeper for its staff.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said the Federal Government needed to make an exemption to support local workers.
“Because JBS is a consolidated company, it’s not eligible,” he said.
“The Dinmore facility is down 40 per cent this year. An exemption needs to be carved out for JBS and for other companies in these types of circumstances.
“The government has tweaked JobKeeper. They can tweak it again to provide an exemption for jobs here. That will protect local jobs. There are over 1700 local workers there.”
Mr Neumann also called on the government to crack down on large processors using third party labour hire companies to work the system and access JobKeeper funds.
According to the AMIEU, companies are using small labour hire companies with a turnover of less than $1 billion to provide labour to their plants.
The labour hire companies only have to show a reduction in turnover of 30 per cent to qualify for JobKeeper.
“JBS is being penalised for doing the right thing,” he said.
“Without naming names, there are other companies who engage frequently and widely in labour hire.
“Those employees at those plants, because they’re working for labour hire, are getting JobKeeper.
“Good corporate behaviour is being punished.
“We need a national pandemic leave arrangement and Queensland is currently not signed up to that.”
JBS has been contacted for comment.
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.