Sunnybrand Chickens processing plant in Byron Bay.
Sunnybrand Chickens processing plant in Byron Bay. Jay Cronan

Workers sacked by SMS

“IT IS a coward's act,” said Stan Mason yesterday after he and about 70 of his colleagues were told by a labour contract company they no longer had a job at Sunnybrand Chicken in Byron Bay.

Mr Mason said the contract workers, who make up about a quarter of Sunnybrand's workforce, were shocked by the news as it came after assurances as little as two weeks ago that there would be no job losses.

“We got sent a text message today that due to roster cuts we are no longer required,” he said.

“The supervisor told me there would possibly be more next week.

“One lady that I was talking today who has to pay for her daughter's wedding asked (Nortec) why we weren't given any warning so we could start looking for other jobs and was told it was tough luck.”

Sunnybrand was bought by the giant Ingham Group after it received approval for the takeover from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in April.

Sunnybrand's chief executive at the time, Bob Hansen, assured staff there would be no job losses.

Both Ingham and Nortec declined to comment yesterday, even refusing to confirm the jobs cuts.

A spokesman for the Meat Employees Union said all the union had been told was that casuals would not be required on Tuesday due to a reduced kill.

One worker employed directly by Sunnybrand said the sackings “happened very quickly” and that all staff were now worried about their future with the company.

“We all want to make it work because we need our jobs,” the worker said.

Mr Mason said he had been contracted by Nortec to work at Sunnybrands for the last six months after working directly for the company for almost seven years before leaving briefly to live on the South Coast with his then girlfriend.

“When I came back I went to Sunnybrand because that's what I am skilled at and it's hard to get other jobs up here,” he said.

“They told me I had to go through Nortec, which I did. I worked about 35 hours a week and got about $3 an hour less than those employed by Sunnybrand.”



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