Meatworks is doing it tough
GRANT SCHERF, 26, and his partner Brooke McDermott, 23, of Casino, have shelved their plans to start saving a deposit for their first home.
Every day Mr Scherf calls the Cassino Northern Co-operative Meat Company at Casino at 10am to find out if he will be working the next day. And every day for the last two weeks it has been the same story. There is no work.
Yesterday, Mr Scherf, who has worked at the meatworks on and off since he was 16, registered for the Job Search allowance with Centrelink. As many as 150 other casual meatworkers may be forced to do the same.
Meat company chief executive officer Gary Burridge said the Australian meat industry was doing it tough.
“Many plants on the Eastern seaboard have scaled back their operations over the last three to four weeks and a number in Victoria are actually shut at the moment,” he said.
Mr Burridge blamed the downturn on many years of drought followed by flood, which caused major cattle losses. The soaring Australian dollar and a growing live export trade was also costing Australian jobs, he said.
“We are under significant pressure from live exports taking cattle out of Darwin, but they have now moved this year as low as Mackay and taking cattle to Indonesia, exporting Australian jobs,” he said.
“Cassino has not terminated its casual staff.
“All we have done is stood them down for a period and we know it will be a short period,” Mr Burridge said.
Mr Burridge said it would be a difficult time for the industry from September until January 2010. Meat Workers Union secretary for Northern NSW Kath Evans said the union had lobbied the government to ban live exports
“Exporting livestock is exporting jobs,” Ms Evans said.
Yesterday the manager of the meatworks met with staff in the boning room to announce the afternoon shift would be cut. The move would not affect full-time employees.
The meatworks is one of the biggest employers in the Northern Rivers and contributes $180 million annually to the local economy.