THE Federal Parliament has been told that Grafton abattoir owner Stuart Ramsey is morally and ethically responsible for the unpaid entitlements of the sacked abattoir workers.
In a parliamentary speech on Tuesday night, Member for Page Janelle Saffin didn't hold back when she told of the way the sacked workers had been treated.
Ms Saffin, a former abattoir worker herself, told the Parliament that up to 23 workers had been sacked from the abattoir just weeks before Christmas without being paid their termination entitlements including holiday and long-service leave pay.
“Re-establishing fairness to Australian workplaces was one of the hallmarks of the Rudd Labor Government. So when I hear of workers in my electorate of Page being treated more like cattle than people it makes my blood boil,” Ms Saffin said in her speech.
“One of my first jobs after leaving school in Ipswich was as an abattoir hand. It was hard, physical and sometimes dangerous work.
“(T)his (the sackings) was a very cruel, bloody-minded and gutless way to treat employees, some of whom had been veterans of the slaughter floor.”
Ms Saffin told the Parliament The Daily Examiner had been 'championing the plight of the affected workers'.
She also relayed the paper's earnest attempts to get answers from abattoir owner Stuart Ramsey and Tempus Holdings director Michael Considine about 'the complex corporate structure attached to the abattoir'.
“ The Daily Examiner's inquiries have been met by silence and stonewalling,” Ms Saffin said.
“I have twice written to Mr Ramsey, on December 12 and January 12, on behalf of my constituents, seeking clarification on exactly who is responsible for paying the sacked workers their outstanding entitlements, but I have had no response to date.”
Recently, Ms Saffin arranged for the sacked workers to access free legal advice from the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre. The advice centres on unfair dismissal and unlawful termination.
She also raised the matter with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard.
“I am encouraging more affected workers to come forward and provide evidence so that they can recover what is rightfully theirs and perhaps discourage rogue employers out there from running roughshod over other workforces in regional Australia,” she said.
“I do not care what tricky, albeit legal, company arrangements may have been put in place, the person (who is) morally and ethically responsible for paying these workers their entitlements is the person who owns the abattoir-Stuart Ramsey,” Ms Saffin said.