JBS Australia’s Cobram abattoir in Victoria and Longford plant small stock chain in Tasmania will be closed indefinitely after redundancies were offered to staff this week.
Although the Longford plant will continue to process cattle, JBS director John Berry said extensions to the plants’ temporary closures up to October 23 had been announced to workers.
As of yesterday, there were 195 workers at the Cobram plant and 40 at Longford, which will be affected by the company’s decision, he said.
After October 23, when severance payments are due to staff, the Longford small stock chain and the Cobram plant will be closed indefinitely, he said.
“This is the third announcement on the plants.
“The temporary closures of Cobram lamb and Longford lamb processing operations in Tasmania have been driven clearly on the supply side challenges and the market conditions,” Mr Berry said.
“We announced the original closure in March for Longford and April for Cobram and since then things haven’t changed in terms of supply and market conditions.”
Mr Berry said both sites are covered by relevant enterprise agreements.
“Because of the way the industrial instruments are phrased and legislation, the plants will be deemed permanently closed past October 23, 2017.”
JBS Australia did not like making these hard decisions around its people and the business, he said.
“It is very, very difficult for those involved. It is difficult for the regional parts of the country that are impacted upon in the Cobram, Longford and Launceston areas.”
JBS working to relocate employees
Mr Berry said JBS was working to see where it could keep people employed in the company’s business. He said staff members who had not found employment within the broader JBS business will be deemed redundant and severance payments will be made.
The Cobram plant will be put under a care and maintenance program for an indeterminate period, he said.
Mr Berry said the status of the JBS Cobram and Longford plants was not an isolated situation in the industry.
“We’re seeing closures across the southern parts of the industry.
“There continues to be pressure on the supply of livestock and there have been other losses of shifts across eastern Australia over the last 12-15 months,” he said.
“We’ve got a supply-side challenge and there is a highly competitive international marketplace in terms of pushing revenues.”
Mr Berry said JBS had invested a lot of money in the Cobram plant since it was bought in 2008.
“It’s a good asset.”
Chief operating officer with JBS Southern, Sam McConnell told ABC Rural the Longford plant would require at least 104,000 lambs per annum to consider re-opening. He said the Cobram site would need up to 4500 sheep, goats and lambs a day.