Live cattle exports killing regional meatworker jobs

DINMORE meatworkers are facing a grim future as their employer struggles to deal with the effect of live exports.

The Australian Meat Industries Employees Union confirmed yesterday that 2000 Ipswich meatworkers had been stood down for a week due to a lack of cattle available for processing.

Several Dinmore workers have contacted the QT over the last few weeks, advising of regular "stand-downs", where employees are advised in advance that they will not be required to work a particular shift.

Workers are not paid for stand-downs and the QT has heard from some employees that have been left with no option but to take up second jobs.

One employee, who contacted the QT anonymously, said he'd only worked three days last week.

"We only get paid for the days we work, and with the stand downs we're only getting a day's notice," he said.

"Then they put a sign up this week that said 'No cattle next Friday'.

"They just can't get the cattle in. You've got labourers here that are surviving on as little as $460 a week if they are only working two days, but they've still got to pay their bills somehow."

The union has hit out at the lack of government action on live cattle exports and global trade deals that are crippling plants like Dinmore meatworks - the largest of its kind in the souther hemisphere.

Reports of increasing live export demand from Chinese abattoirs is likely to further limit the number of cattle available to be killed and processed locally, which is already at record lows.

The meatworkers union said some Dinmore workers had lost up to 28 days of pay so far this year.

AMIEU secretary Matt Journeaux said the union had warned about prioritising live export over local production and its negative impact on regional employment across the state.

"Now we see pressure from Chinese companies to supply their market but at the expense of cattle supply and jobs in regional Queensland," he said.

"Ipswich is the latest regional centre to be sidelined to satisfy the live export market.

"Townsville, and other regional cities, have already been hit hard by a range of factors including falling commodity prices and cuts to government services.

"This is an area where the federal government can cap the number of cattle for live export and make a difference to regional employment."

Unions are seeking further discussions with state and federal government representatives to ensure local employment was prioritised in a time of high regional unemployment.

"The biggest concern is that trade agreements and the current policies of the Turnbull Government actually promote live export at the expense of local production," he said.

There are concerns that large scale grazing companies are entering joint venture operations with live exporters, further reducing the number of Australian cattle for local kill.

In 2015, around 1.36 million live export cattle went overseas.

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