JBS Meatworks and abattoir at Dinmore. Beef cattle processing and kill floor.
JBS Meatworks and abattoir at Dinmore. Beef cattle processing and kill floor. Inga Williams

LETTER: JBS not telling full story says employee

AS a person who has worked in the meat industry for 25 plus years, and a current employee of JBS Dinmore, I would like to set the record straight on a few important issues at the plant affecting local people.

Firstly - the change in shifts from Monday to Thursday which had been the norm for the plant for over a decade to Tuesday to Friday. The excuse given by JBS was that cattle were easier to obtain for processing on Fridays.

This is laughable and easily exposed as a lie by the fact the most common day to be stood down this year was in fact Fridays. The real reason was that most public holidays fall mostly on Mondays and the recent decision will cost workers five public holidays before the end of the year.

This is a disgraceful money grab by a company that has shown it cares little for the country or its people that has given it three years of record profits. Secondly, let's talk about stand downs. JBS could spread the current workload over the full week, avoiding stand downs thus keeping a slightly reduced workforce in full employment, but despite record profits it chooses to run at full production speed and stand down workers.

JBS it seems has little appetite to share our pain. Now - onto the current EBA negotiations. I can't believe it's not criminal for a large company to deliberately drag out EBA negotiations and not be enforced to have to back date the pay rise to the end date of the previous EBA.

This is just a carrot to stall. JBS has already stated no backdating will occur. The previous EBA was dragged out for 14 months and the company cleverly assured workers back pay would be paid but then refused to backdate the rise in pay rate to the end date of previous EBA.

The result is workers continually fall further behind so in fact we are now around 6% behind where we were previously. You would think after record profits JBS would at least agree to pay its workers enough to keep up with inflation, but no. Even the current offer is below inflation.

This is the company that cried to Government that it could not attract workers so began a policy of importing workers on the 457 visa program. Fill the plant with foreign workers and spouses and then grind down pay and conditions. The question that should be asked is: Did they really need foreign workers or did they in fact need to reward Aussie workers to retain them at the plant?

In a free market society if you don't reward your employees fairly they will leave and rightly so. As for skill shortage the facts are 457 workers were brought in with very few actual skills and our own skilled workers were then made to train those 457 workers up to speed.

When they achieved this the Aussies were removed from those jobs and placed in inferior mundane jobs to make way for the 457 workers, so was this a skill shortage or a policy of replacement?

Many pleas were made to local members Neumann and Ripoll all to no avail. The government was more interested in big immigration and those who fell under the wheels were not important.

And just to add about fair play, the mean spirit of JBS also extends to their staff. The foremans and quality control officers have not received a pay rise in over six years now. Any query re a pay increase is greeted with an invitation to leave if not happy. So much for gratitude for record profits.

So do we blame senior Australian management for this behaviour? Maybe we should be gracious and believe the mean spirited decisions are coming from Brazil, but either way what's been happening is a disgrace.

It needs to be asked how government, of both parties, can close their eyes and allow corporate behaviour like this to be allowed in this country.

And people wonder why Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson are so popular.


Name and address withheld.