WORKERS at the Beenleigh beef processing plant operated by Teys Australia are again facing uncertainty and pay cuts following a Federal Court decision to rule a 2013 Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, supported by the majority of employees, as invalid.
While 35 jobs created under the new EBA are under direct threat, the majority of the 800 employees at the plant are likely to receive a pay cut as well as the loss of profit share bonuses that saw around 500 employees receive an average bonus of $4500 in 2014.
Teys general manager corporate affairs Tom Maguire said the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union was able to “manipulate the industrial relations process.”
“The Federal Court basically said that the decision by the full bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) was wrong but they are legally entitled to make wrong decisions,” he said.
“This highlights the brokenness of the current IR system.”
Mr Maguire said with higher unemployment figures released yesterday, it was farcical that the current system works against Australian manufacturers and local jobs.
“Our employees worked with us to create a productivity-based way forward, yet the union, which was terrified of losing influence and power, opposed us all the way to the Federal Court.
An independent economic report estimated that the Teys Beenleigh plant with flow-on effects contributes more than $360 million in GDP to the Brisbane region and underpins more than 1800 full time equivalent jobs.
However the plant had returned only 2.8 percent on its $150 million asset base over nine years, decreasing to a one percent return over the four years to 2012.
Mr Maguire said the company competed in a global market, where the local production cost of processing a beast is double that in the US and more than double that in Brazil.
“Australia urgently needs more workplace flexibility and an overhaul of the FWC, to support the relatively few manufacturers that remain in Australia,” he said.
“The Prime Minister in parliament yesterday said ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ was his priority, so how about we get serious and have an IR system that supports jobs.”
Teys Australia said it was considering the long term viability of its Beenleigh plant.