Leitch disputes rumours
LEITCH Pastoral Group owner Dudley Leitch has quashed rumours that the Killarney Abattoir is in financial trouble.
He said a recent restructuring of the abattoir, in which 18 people lost their jobs, had been successful.
“To prove that we are going forward, we are doing a number of things ... we’ve entered into forward contracts, are entering into negotiations with the union, renovating the waste-water ponds and on Monday I’m going to a forum with the (Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation) with regards to the compost material,” he said.
“There is no suggestion whatsoever that we’re slowing down.”
The rumour mill has only been fed by an advertisement, which appeared in the clearing sales section of a state-wide newspaper’s classifieds, saying a number of machinery items will be sold by Mr Leitch on December 19.
Mr Leitch said while the clearing sale was going ahead, it was simply to clear out old machinery.
“In the last three or four years we’ve bought probably 20 properties and when you buy 20 properties you’ve got a lot of equipment,” he said.
“Over time we thought ‘we’re not using that gear’ ... we’re just rationalising our equipment.”
Mr Leitch yesterday met with Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) Queensland branch secretary Ian McLauchlan to negotiate a new workplace agreement for the Pittsworth Abattoir, which is also owned by Mr Leitch’s Condamine River Meats.
Mr McLauchlan told the Daily News the union was in talks with Leitch Pastoral Group to negotiate a new deal for the Killarney Abattoir early next year.
“We just had our first round of talks to get an agreement with the (Pittsworth Abattoir). The Killarney agreement is due to be re-negotiated in early 2010,” he said.
“The company has already agreed that negotiations will take place.”
Some Killarney locals were still unsure just how well the Killarney Abattoir was travelling. One employee was worried his new boss’s failure to organise the popular annual Christmas Party was another indication of tough times ahead.
Another local said there were rumours Leitch Pastoral Group was winding down its Killarney operation to allow it to focus on its Pittsworth plant.
“Leitch Pastoral spent a significant amount on a new rendering plant at Pittsworth and I guess that makes us wonder whether they haven’t decided that abattoir has more potential then here,” he said.
“It would be devastating if the town lost the abattoir. It’s our largest employer.”
But another Killarney businessman offered a different perspective.
“Leitch is just making changes, which were long overdue in the interests of economics and efficiency,” he said.
In other abattoir news, after a working lifetime at Killarney Abattoir the Hancock family have officially severed ties with the meatworks plant they built.
Former Killarney Abattoir general manager Hector Hancock said the split between his family and businessman Mr Leitch, whose Leitch Pastoral Group bought the family-owned abattoir in 2008, had been amicable.
Mr Leitch said he wished the Hancocks well.