Grafton abattoir to shut in weeks
THE company in control of the South Grafton abattoir has blamed "certain Government Departments" for the closure of the plant scheduled for November 14.
Ramsey Group made the official announcement this morning saying it would transfer abattoir operations to the Northern Co-operative Meat Company (NCMC) at Casino.
"All permanent long term employees shall be offered employment at the Northern Co-operative Meat Company Casino, subject to the normal application being made and health checks being completed," the statement said.
Frank Hannigan, solicitor for the Ramsey Group of companies said:
"Whilst the move from Grafton is regretted, and not the preferred option by the Ramsey Group, it appeared inevitable certain Government Departments were single minded in their efforts to achieve the closing of the abattoir business at Grafton.
"However, the positive aspect remains that employees will have the opportunity to work at the Northern Co-operative Meat Company at Casino. The move is exciting for the community of Casino as the prospect of the Ramsey business returning to where it commenced assists both the Northern Co-operative Meat Company and the Casino community in general."
NCMC chairman George Bennett said the co-operative was looking forward to the return of the Ramsey Meat Processing Business.
"They will bring the additional veal volumes the Co-operative vitally needs and whilst the move may be difficult for the community of Grafton, it will certainly bring a degree of stability to NCMC's business, its suppliers' businesses and a degree of security for the business community of Casino."
CEO for NCMC, Mr Gary Burridge said: "The Co-operative is already hard at work developing an integration strategy for the Ramsey business to ensure it is a transparent and flawless relocation process. We will in the next few days be establishing the medical and pre-employment process for the long term employees of the Ramsey Group of companies who make themselves available to work at Casino."
A distraught South Grafton abattoir worker rang The Examiner at 10am this morning with news that Stuart Ramsey will shut the meatworks on November 14.
The move will be a loss at least 150 jobs for Grafton.
The worker, who asked not to be identified, said Ramsey told a meeting of workers only minutes earlier that he was moving all his operations to Casino and workers could apply for jobs there.
"Who wants to drive all the way to Casino for work.
"Grafton will be f---," he said. "All the (timber) mills are full.
"He didn't say it was financial or anything he just said it was because of all the trouble and what's gone on."
Another worker said outside the site that workers had been told that there would be jobs in Casino for all the Grafton workers and those who chose not to take the jobs would be paid their entitlments.
The closure follows a Federal Court judgement handed down yesterday which found that Ramsey had engaged in deceitful conduct when the abattoir sacked 11 workers without paying their entitlements just before Christmas 2008.
Last week Ramsey Food Processing was found guilty of contempt in the NSW Land and Environment Court after it failed to carry out an environmental audit of the South Grafton site and failed to place notices in newspapers to notify the public.