The biggest poultry meat producer in Australia has announced it will axe between 70 and 80 employees, about a third of all the staff at its Byron Bay factory.
An ‘unavoidable restructure’ is how Mike Rozen, Ingham’s group executive general manager QLD/NSW, explained the decision yesterday. Union representatives have called it ‘a kick in the guts’.
Inghams have declined media interviews but in a press release Mr Rozen cited ‘ongoing constraints of the manufacturing facilities, EPA-imposed environmental limitations and broader customer expectations nationally’ as part of the review.
Echonetdaily understands that the EPA issue relates to the dispersal of wastewater at the plant.
Ingham acquired the Sunnybrand processing plant in April of last year 2011 and conducted an ‘extensive review of the business’.
Mr Rozen says discussions with the union and the affected employees commenced Monday and will be finalised towards the end of February.
Union representative Grant Courtney told ABC radio that the company is reducing throughput by about 100,000 birds a week.
Mr Courtney, federal president of the Australasian Meat Employees Union, said that the decision had ‘come out of the blue’.
In comparison to the previous owner, it had been ‘positive news’ working with Inghams, he said. But he added that the company’s decision not to spend money to meet the new EPA standards inevitably meant a reduction of employment.
He said the group will be lobbying Inghams to ensure local people’s jobs are saved, as opposed to the (mostly) backpackers who work casually at the site.
Employee assistance and support services will also be provided to all affected during the redundancy process. Employees who may be able to re-locate will be advised of vacancies at the company’s operations in Brisbane.
Employs 250 people
‘We are having discussions with the AMIEU (the union) and although the restructure is unavoidable we are able to continue our long-term arrangement with our boning contractor and its employees.’
Mr Rozen added, ‘We do appreciate the ongoing support of our employees during this difficult time as we work through the challenges and best available options to ensure Ingham is a sustainable employer in the region.’
Currently the company claims they employ 250 people, making them one of, if not the, biggest local employer in the Shire.
Around 8000 people are employed in Australia and New Zealand by the company, and in 2010 it had a group turnover (sales) of $1.6 billion.