JBS Australia Rockhampton Meatworks to open in four weeks

DESPITE rumours that it will be closed for six months, JBS Australia yesterday announced that it hopes to re-open its Rockhampton facility four weeks from Monday.

Rockhampton plant manager Bill Sauer revealed the timeline to staff in a meeting at the Frenchville Sports Club after two weeks of uncertainty over the state of the facility.

There are 538 employees at the local plant, with 40 so far redeployed to other JBS centres as far away as Longford in Tasmania.

Mr Sauer said the company hoped to temporarily move each staff member who indicated at the last meeting that they were willing to relocate, and JBS had been paying for transport and accommodation for them.

So far, it hasn't been able to relocate everyone due to issues with accommodation, particularly in the Dinmore facility near Ipswich which is celebrating its annual show.

JBS Rockhampton sustained a lot of damage to the roof and windows, as well as structural damage which brought down large chunks of asbestos at the plant.

It also lost all of the 700 carcasses that had been slaughtered the day before. Mr Sauer said based on the current market price, they were worth about $1000 each.

At this stage, it was still unsure how much money in total the cyclone had cost the business.

Mr Sauer said it was important to JBS that it communicated with staff face-to-face during this time, and he said they were doing their best to provide financial support to those who wouldn't be relocating.

At the meeting, there were booths set up from its HR department, Red Cross and Centrelink. Coles and Woolworth vouchers were also available.

"First of all we had to scope the damage and the work we had to do to get the plant going," Mr Sauer said.

"Second we had to get decent, good engineering and principal contractors in place. They've been working 24/7 to get a plan in place to get the plant running again."

Mr Sauer said that in the next four weeks, JBS would complete the things required to re-open, and in the months after finish the rest of the work.

"It'll be safe, that's our number one priority," he said.



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