AN 'UNACCEPTABLE offer' is at the heart of the breakdown in negotations between workers and management at JBS Dinmore said Brendan O'Connor, Federal Shadow Employment Minister, with staff unwilling to negotiate with the company.
Mr O' Connor listened as workers and union representatives explained their plight in the meeting at Brassall.
Workers were frustrated at being asked to make productivity gains, with so many shutdownas and dropped shifts.
"It is hypocritical to ask for a productivity increase, when there are no cattle,” one worker said.
"To take the public holidays out of the EBA was a low act.”
In a possible sign of an improvement in relations, a worker said they had been told the CEO 'will consider' paying staff for Christmas and Boxing Days.
Although he cannot intervene in the dispute, Mr O'Connor said it is vital jobs are protected 'for the future'.
"It is very concerning that workers are being asked to take leave without pay, when they have no entitlements,” Mr O' Connor said.
"We must maintain value adding.”
JBS staff at the meeting spoke of the inconsistency of work rosters, and the day-to-day nature of work.
"It is hard to plan anything when you don't know if the work is there.”
Mr O' Connor said it was an 'awful thing' to see job losses at JBS.
"It is an awful thing to see the loss of good, decent, permanent jobs that allow people to make a living.”
With enterprise bargaining the 'pre-eminent method' for workplace negotiations, Mr O' Connor said there is an obligation to 'bargain in good faith'.
"My message is to sit down and reconcile the differences.”
Mr O' Connor said workers want to be told the truth of the situation.
"They would be a lot more sympathetic if JBS engaged fully with the workforce.”
Mr O' Connor said he empathises with workers caught up in the situation.
"That level of anxiety is really awful.”
While he said the policy of Federal Labor was to support primary industry, he wants 'everyone' to share in the benefits.
"We want everyone to share in the success of exports, we need to make sure we are value adding.”
Mr O' Connor visited Ipswich at the invitation of Shayne Neumann, Federal MP for Blair, who wanted to highlight the situation facing the JBS workers.
"We need security, to create jobs for Australians,” Mr Neumann said.
"Often meat processors are the biggest employer, especially in rural towns and centres.