Lamb Processing

Tight market conditions force JBS Bordertown shift change

Terry Sim, February 15, 2016

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TIGHT market conditions in the sheepmeat industry have forced JBS Australia to drop 118 workers from its Bordertown plant workforce from next week.

The move from a double shift to a single 9.5 hour four-day rotating shift on February 22, was announced to workers at the South Australian plant on Friday.

The change will mean 118 labour hire workers will lose their jobs and daily production at the plant will move from about 8000 to 5000 sheep and lambs.

The downsizing move is the expected to be followed by operational changes at other sheep and lamb plants as processors cope with declining supplies and retail market resistance to current market prices. Lamb turn-off is expected to tighten earlier this year, due to higher slaughter figures in recent months and fewer lambs bought for feeding-on.

JBS director John Berry said downsizing is currently happening across the red meat sector.

Teys Australia’s Lakes Creek beef plant at Rockhampton is moving to a single shift this week, citing a reduction in cattle supply and increased live exports, and the company’s Wagga Wagga beef plant is also retrenching staff and reducing throughput, it was announced today.

JBS’s Primo beef processing plant at Scone moved to a single shift two weeks ago.

“All we are doing is being transparent,” he said.

“It’s been a hard decision, but we’ve looked to balance it up between jobs, processing capacity and the business conditions at the moment.”

Mr Berry said the company’s Cobram and Brooklyn plants would continue operating as they are.

The Bordertown changes were due to the current supply and demand conditions, he said.

“I think the point here is that with red meat globally, customers are pushing back on the sell price and there are opportunities for lower-priced animal protein, namely chicken and pork.

“This is not an aberration – we are not making these decision because we want to,” he said.

“These are considered decisions and contraction in capacity has to match supply.”

 

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