The closure of the South Grafton abattoir will impact on the Clarence Valley economy.
The closure of the South Grafton abattoir will impact on the Clarence Valley economy.

Helping hand for abattoir workers

A RAPID-response unit involving the three levels of government, union and industry representatives has been set up to help workers who are about to lose their jobs from the South Grafton abattoir.

The measures are being driven by the NSW Department of Trade and Investment, and regional director Louise McMeeking said officials were already on the ground to help those affected.

She said the department was providing a central point of contact for workers hit by the closure and for potential employers keen to retain skills locally.

"This contact point will provide a resource for workers to register and receive information," Ms McMeeking said.

"A number of community information forums are planned and advice will be available to employees affected in regard to their financial entitlements.

"Information will also be available to affected employees on opportunities for employment and/or retraining.

"The department is committed to ensuring appropriate support is given to affected workers."

She said the rapid-response unit would work with an employment co-ordinator and the council to pursue employment, including at the Northern Co-operative Meat Company in Casino.

"While the Ramsey Group has announced all permanent long-term employees of the Grafton facility will be offered employment at the Northern Co-operative Meat Company, the department understands this may not be suitable for all employees," Ms McMeeking said.

Meat Workers Union federal president Grant Courtney said he remained concerned about the security of workers' entitlements, even for those who got work in Casino.

"We want to make sure the South Grafton abattoir owners pay annual leave, long-service leave, outstanding overtime and severance pay," Mr Courtney said.

He said he had been part of the phone hook-up to set up the rapid-response team.

He said he questioned how many workers might be offered jobs in Casino and whether the Casino meatworks would pick up the liability for unpaid entitlements, as has been suggested. He also questioned the need for retraining.

"They are completely skilled in the work they are doing," he said.

Workers seeking more information can email northcoast.rapidresponse@business.nsw.gov.au.



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