Ingham's axe falls on workers
INGHAM will lose almost a third of workers at its Byron Bay chicken processing plant.
The announcement comes less than a year after the giant Ingham group bought out the former Sunnybrand plant with assurances from the-then owners no jobs would be lost.
The company, one of Byron Bay's biggest employers, today said it would lay off 70 to 80 of its 250 employees, including some supervisors and managers.
At a meeting at the Ewingsdale Rd plant this afternoon staff were offered voluntary redundancies.
Ingham blamed compliance with Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) waste water standards as a "major contributing factor" to the job cuts.
A spokeswoman said those constraints were not evident when Ingham took over the plant last April.
"To meet the EPA standards for waste water at its current processing rate would require a significant capital expenditure which is not possible at this time," she said.
"The company has therefore decided that a significant reduction in production is required. This was not an easy decision but is the best option to secure ongoing employment for some employees."
Meat Workers Union Newcastle secretary Grant Courtney described the announcement as 'devastating blow' for the town and is calling on Ingham to reconsider.
He said the job cuts had followed a decision to reduce the weekly chicken kill by 100,000 a week.
The union will ask priority of employment be given to long-term staff.
Despite the cuts, one worker said he gave credit to Ingham for coming out with the truth and not holding back from its employees.
In a statement, Ingham group executive general manager NSW/QLD Mike Rozen said: "Ingham has strived to maintain permanent employee labour levels since the acquisition. Irrespective of our best efforts we have had to make a decision to restructure our labour resources to align with the current constraints."
The company said it anticipated most of the job losses would be among casual employees.
Some workers may be able to move to Ingham operations in Brisbane.
A long-term arrangement with the company's boning contractor and its employees would continue.