(AAP Image/Dan Peled)
(AAP Image/Dan Peled)

MP calls for immediate change to support meat workers

Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann is calling on the Morrison Government to support meatworkers at the JBS Dinmore abattoir, who will be out of work in the coming weeks and facing an uncertain future.

The JBS meat processing plant at Dinmore will shut down for two weeks from 24 August and stand down its more than 1,700 staff who have already been struggling with cuts to shifts in recent months.

It is one of the biggest employers in the Ipswich region.

Mr Neumann said the company is currently unable to access the Federal Government’s JobKeeper scheme to support its Ipswich employees and he would be writing to Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to seek an exemption.

“The Morrison Government needs to make an exemption to the JobKeeper payment to support these local workers in my electorate,” he said.

“The JBS Dinmore facility is currently eligible under the turnover test, but the consolidated company is not, so there needs to be a carve-out for JBS and other companies in these types of circumstances.

“The Government has tweaked JobKeeper three times now, so they can tweak it again and provide some flexibility to protect these jobs here in Ipswich.

“On top of this, these workers can’t access JobSeeker payments either as they are still technically employed, which means they will have no income.

“While they’re at it, the Government needs to crack down on large meat processors using third party labour hire companies to work the system and access JobKeeper funds.

“Companies are using small labour hire companies with a turnover of less than $1 billion to provide labour to their plants. The labour hire companies only have to show a reduction in turnover of 30 per cent to qualify for JobKeeper.

“So JBS is being penalised for doing the right thing, while competitors who are widely using labour hire workers are being rewarded. That’s not fair.

“Finally, we need a national paid pandemic leave scheme that includes Queensland to protect workers at JBS Dinmore, as well as public health and the local economy.

“The Government should follow Labor’s call to extend pandemic leave payments beyond Victoria to other states and territories, so all workers can stay home if they’re sick.

Mr Neumann said JBS had been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s suspension of some Australian beef imports, and he called on the Morrison Government to resolve the issue.

“The Government’s mismanagement of the relationship with our most important trading partner is clearly to blame here. We are now seeing the economic cost of this recklessness.

“The Government needs to work with stakeholders both here and in China, including industry and unions, to fix this problem as soon as possible. It’s taking far too long.

“We need to protect these local jobs and I will be doing everything I can to make sure that happens,” Mr Neumann said.