Poultry giant Inghams will close its Byron Bay processing plant, in northern New South Wales, leaving more than 80 staff without jobs.
The closure, slated for October this year, follows a review by the company of its facilities in Queensland and northern NSW.
Ingham’s Mike Rozen says the facility is older and less efficient than other factories, and unable to competitively produce the full range of poultry products demanded by Australian consumers.
“Unfortunately, the closure of the Byron Bay facility has become necessary to keep Inghams competitive and drive efficiencies to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our consumers,” he said.
The eight poultry farmers in the region contracted to Inghams will now send 200,000 chickens a week across the border to its factory in Brisbane.
Mr Rozen says the transport costs will be offset by improved processing costs and neither growers or consumers will be affected.
Grant Courtney from the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union says they were notified by senior management last Friday of the pending closure.
“We’re already on the front foot as far as this is concerned,” he said.
“We’ve contacted a range of employees throughout the Northern Rivers district to see if they’re actually seeking follow on labour.
“We’ve contacted the Northern Co-operative Meat Company, both at Casino, and also at the Booyong operations, we’re hoping they should be able to take some of those workers, because predominantly we’re talking about looking after the local workforce.
“The temporary engaged international workforce will no doubt move on to other paths, but our primary focus is about looking after local employment and we’ll be contacting as many employers within the region to ensure that hopefully those workers get a start.”
Mr Rozen has confirmed that 86 employees including 21 casuals and several contract service providers will be affected by the plant’s closure.
“We will be working closely with all employees, and importantly discuss redeployment opportunities and relocation assistance,” he said.
“Permanent employees are being notified of, and encouraged to express interest in relocation to alternative sites.”
The Byron Bay processing facility was home to Sunnybrand Chickens until early 2011 when it taken over by the then Australian owned-Inghams.
Two years later Inghams was sold to US-based private equity group TPG for $880 million.
Inghams is assessing its options in relation to the Byron Bay property after it’s shut-down.
Source: ABC News