Meatworkers told their job's safe

WALLANGARRA meatworkers have been assured their jobs are safe, despite the plant being sold to a South Australian company.

Country Fresh Australia confirmed yesterday it had sold the meat processing and distribution business, which includes abattoirs at Wallangarra and Tamworth, to Adelaide-based T&R Pastoral.

But Country Fresh owner Graham Jackson assured the 120 meatworkers at the plant on the Queensland/New South Wales border their jobs were safe.

“The new owners are a family owned company, who have made the move to expand their business,” Mr Jackson said.

“They have bought our operation ‘as is’ so it will be business as usual. Our employees can rest assured they have not bought the operation to close it down. This is a strategic investment for T&R and their first move into Queensland.”

The Jackson family purchased the Wallangarra works 16 years ago as part of an integrated move to develop their rural operations.

Mr Jackson said the economic climate had created challenges for the processing sector, but in a regional sense there was an upside.

“The closure of Killarney Abattoir doesn’t reflect well on the sector as a whole,” Mr Jackson said.

“However, it has made things easier for us at Wallangarra, specifically with accessing livestock.

“It has also benefited us from a retail perspective, selling into geographic areas where traditionally we have competed with Killarney.”

He said the Wallangarra works currently processed 12,000 head of sheep and goats per week.

“In recent months we have also seen very high sheep prices – a result of the low flock numbers nationally,” Mr Jackson said.

“This has been complicated by the high Aussie dollar, so it has been pretty rugged. But longer term I believe the meat processing sector has a positive future.”

An announcement about the future of the Leitch Pastoral Group Killarney and Pittsworth abattoirs was tipped for yesterday but as at time of printing last night there had been no communication forthcoming from the company.

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