Australia: Two Ipswich meatworks to close, destroying hundreds of jobs
21 September 2017
Two meat processing plants in the Queensland city of Ipswich have announced plans to shut down operations, eliminating as many as 900 jobs, by the end of this month. The announcements, made at the end of August without any prior warning to workers, are part of a deepening assault on the working class.
The meatworks slated for closure are the Churchill Abattoir and the Steggles Wulkuraka chicken plant, employing 500 and 400 workers respectively. The owners of Churchill intend to shut the doors on September 28, leaving their entire workforce unemployed. As for Wulkuraka, its owners Baiada Poultry will axe 250 jobs when it closes the plant in January. While claiming it will retain the remaining workforce in an adjacent distribution facility, the company has given no guarantee.
The closures are devastating for workers in Ipswich, a largely working class city, known historically as a regional centre of coal mining and manufacturing, about 40 km southwest of Brisbane, the Queensland state capital. Workers at both facilities have been shocked by the news. Many now face long-term unemployment and the accompanying social hardship for themselves and their families. In media interviews, workers have said they will be unable to pay their mortgages and could end up homeless.
Churchill’s owners claimed that the short time-frame given for the closure was necessary in order to fully pay entitlements owed to its workforce. Workers objected that, even if true, this would not ameliorate their difficulties. One worker noted that the entitlement amounts would be based on seniority, with most employees receiving meagre payments.
The state Labor government and the Australian Meat…