Unholy alliance: meatworkers join fight against live export
THE union representing Casino meatworkers says plans for a potential live trade export market to Indonesia from the Port of Yamba would be challenged by an "unholy alliance" of local meatworkers and animal rights campaigners.
Meat Workers Union Newcastle and Northern NSW branch secretary Grant Courtney said 900 abattoir workers and the region's vocal vegans would be "singing from the same song sheet".
Mr Courtney said the Meat Workers Union, which represented 900 of the 1200 workers at the Northern Co-operative Meat Company, would fight any step towards a local live trade industry.
"Live trade takes work away from Australian workers," he said.
"We need to protect regional Australian jobs.
"I would urge all producers interested in securing the live trade market to rethink their decision and to think about their local community and local jobs."
Mr Courtney said the union was also concerned on animal welfare grounds.
"Indonesia continues to have a horrific track record with animal cruelty. They can't be trusted," he said.
"Every plant in Australia stuns the animal first so that it is not conscious while killed. In Indonesia they restrain the animal by rope and it is in terrible stress when its throat is cut."
Mr Courtney said the Northern Rivers economy was reliant on the meatworks - its biggest employer.
"It employs 1200 locals directly but when you take into account all associated jobs you can multiply that number by three," he said.
Mr Courtney said the fact the Australian Agricultural Company in Darwin, the country's largest live exporter, had just built the $91 million Livingstone Beef processing facility showed the live export market was on the nose.
Similarly, local investment was a sign the meatworks and its staff were in it for the long haul, he said.
After reporting a record $25.9m profit before tax for the 2014 financial year, the Northern Co-operative Meat Company announced it was poised to undertake business improving investment for the benefit of future generations.
Mr Courtney rejected claims the Indonesian market was growing.
"They just don't eat that much beef," he said.