Claims JobSeeker is slicing into meatworks labour supply
The summer barbecue could be in jeopardy - and not because of COVID social distancing rules but because of an abattoir labour shortage which is being blamed on generous government handouts.
One of the country's largest beef processors says the federal government's JobSeeker program is slicing into its workforce with workers opting to take up handouts instead of jobs.
Teys Australia, which has an abattoir in Logan, south of Brisbane, said it has 150 jobs up for grabs across the country but can't fill them because prospective workers were living on the federal government handout.
Up to 20 of those jobs are based at Beenleigh.
Under the program, recipients receive $1100 a fortnight plus a coronavirus supplement, which Teys said was wiping out its prospective workforce.
Teys manager of corporate affairs John Langbridge said the number of job applications it was getting had plunged to an all-time low despite the national unemployment rate rising to 7.5 per cent under COVID-19.
He said the issue was so dire, he had written to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud asking for help to try and resolve the employment problem, which may eventually impact on the company's ability to process available cattle.
"JobSeeker was a good temporary measure to support the economy but Teys feels as though it is now competing with the government for workers," he said.
"Processing plants are not what many expect and they are extremely clean and comfortable workplaces where many functions are now automated.
"There are many pathways for advancement in this industry and we also offer training programs available that can upskill workers into better paying jobs."
Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union Jimmy Cottrell-Dormer said Teys was to blame for its own labour shortfall by employing staff using labour hire companies which only pay the base minimum.
"The answer is to train and upgrade local staff to fill those positions and instigate a system where staff can work their way up to more skilled positions," he said.
"They can't get staff because they don't pay and don't offer incentives for people to progress through the company."
Mr Langbridge said the abattoir's dilemma was compounded with international and state border closures ruling out employing overseas and interstate skilled workers and backpackers.
The company's frustration may be over at the end of the month when JobSeeker payments will drop to $800 a fortnight.
The JobSeeker coronavirus supplement will drop from $550 to $250 a fortnight, meaning people on the overall program will receive $815 a fortnight after September.
Teys has skilled and unskilled positions at Beenleigh, Biloela and Rockhampton in Queensland, Wagga and Tamworth in New South Wales, and Naracoorte in South Australia.
Originally published as Dole bludgers slice into meatworks labour supply