Meat processing plants across South Australia are calling on Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to secure local jobs

South Australians are worried about the future of the local meat processing industry and fear that over 5,000 locals will lose their jobs after government’s decision to abandon domestic auto-manufacturing. Meat processing is considered South Australian state’s largest source of blue-collar employment.

Today more than 5,000 workers employed at meat processing plants across South Australia are calling on Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to secure local jobs for the sector, following plans to expand live exports, putting local supply at risk.

Graham Smith, from the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU), said plans to expand live exports will significantly jeopardise the state’s major meat processing plants and the broader local economy.

“Today we have written to Mr. Joyce on behalf of our members and their families, calling on him to support South Australian jobs and explain why he plans to expand live exports at the expense of the state’s meat processing industry,” said Mr. Smith.

“The Minister’s support for the live exports calls into question his commitment to South Australian jobs. Meat processing has become the state’s largest source of blue-collar employment following the closure of the car industry.

“With over 5,000 local jobs on the line, Mr. Joyce’s plan is a slap in the face to South Australians, who are still reeling from thousands of job losses after the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s decision to abandon domestic auto-manufacturing.

“Every one million sheep live exported to foreign markets means one less abattoir in South Australia. For every additional 2,000 sheep loaded onto ships bound for foreign markets, yet another Aussie job is offshored.

“The Australian live export industry ships about 2 million sheep annually, which if processed domestically would add two small to medium abattoirs to the state’s meat processing industry, creating up to 1,000 local jobs.

“There’s already been significant job losses in the industry this year, with three of the country’s four largest meat processors forced to stand down more than 200 workers at abattoirs across South Australia due to the direct impact of live exports.

“South Australians are worried about the future of the local meat processing industry and the effects further shutdowns will have on local jobs and the broader community.

“The Turnbull Government’s crusade for unrestricted live export growth means our abattoirs are getting a smaller slice of a shrinking meat pie.

“That’s before you factor in job losses from a range of other industries that live exports cut out of the supply chain, such as smallgoods, sausage skin manufacturers and tanneries, not to mention the flow on effects for the region’s small businesses and local economies.

“Mr. Joyce must tell us if he is willing to support South Australian manufacturing jobs and tell the community if he’ll stand for our interests,” said Mr. Smith.