Stand-down at abattoir

March 23, 2017

Up to 350 employees at JBS Australia’s Cobram abattoir will be affected by a minimum four-week stand-down of workers.

Announced on Friday, the decision was made ‘‘due to a shortage of suitable smalls livestock’’ as per the company’s enterprise agreement, the plant’s manager said in a memo to staff.

The notice said all kill floor daily employees would not be required to attend work from Friday until April 18, while employees in the boning room would not be required from Monday until April 19.

It said load-out, maintenance, skin shed and rendering sections may be required to work intermittently during the stand-down period.

Employees will be paid accrued annual leave during the stand-down period.

An employee of 10 years at the Cobram plant, who did not want to be named, said they were worried about what the future may hold.

‘‘Two weeks ago we heard it happened at the Longford plant in Tasmania, the employees at Cobram knew Longford had been stood down and were nervous that the same thing might happen,’’ the employee said.

‘‘We’ve had the odd maintenance shutdown here and there, but not to this extreme.’’

The employee said staff were devastated when they heard the news, and that people were worried about the future of the Cobram plant.

‘‘People were really nervous. What are they going to do?

‘‘One woman is from Shepparton and has nine children and another guy from Cobram has five children.’’

The employee acknowledged the company had provided a list of support services to workers to help them work through issues associated with the stand-down.

JBS Australia was contacted for comment.

—Cameron Whiteley

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