Almost 600 workers at Australia’s largest meat processing facility have lost their jobs as the company scales back its operations due to plummeting profits during the pandemic.
The job cuts at JBS Dinmore in Ipswich, which is the largest meat factor in the southern hemisphere, comes after the company failed to convince Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to make a JobKeeper exemption.
The company does not qualify for the scheme as its turnover has only dropped 40 per cent this year, and not the 50 per cent required by large businesses.
Bosses blamed JobKeeper for creating an ‘inequity’ in the market, with some companies propped up by handouts and others struggling to make ends meet.
JBS Australia chief executive officer Brent Eastwood said it hadn’t been an easy decision, but bosses had been left with little alternative.
‘Already facing a severe livestock supply shortage following an extended period of drought, the COVID-19 crisis has significantly impacted the Dinmore business,’ he told the Courier Mail.
‘The situation has been further exacerbated by the market inequity created by the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program.
‘The market conditions mean there will be no work for around 600 full time jobs for the foreseeable future.’
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the company over the past few months, with shifts at the factory cut by 40 per cent and 1,700 workers stood down with no pay for two weeks.
Due to the tumultuous few months, workers have lost more than 70 shifts this year and are classed as daily hire, meaning the minimum period of notice for termination is one day.
Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union and Blair MP Shayne Neumann said it was one of the saddest cases Ipswich had ever seen.
‘It’s catastrophic for the Ipswich community and it’s devastating for these local workers and families.’
Smaller companies, those with an annual turnover of less than $1billion, must show their their turnover has fallen by 30 per cent to qualify.
For bigger companies making $1billion or more annually, this must have dropped by 50 per cent.