Bindaree Beef takes on Murray Bridge Thomas Foods workers

BINDAREE Beef has started taking on workers left without jobs after the fire at the Thomas Foods International (TFI) South Australian processing plant.

Group human resources manager Maureen Rae said “a number” of workers from Murray Bridge had started at the Inverell facility this week.

She declined to say how many, but said some were backpackers travelling on working holiday 417 visas, and “some have other visa types as well”.

Meanwhile, the company has kept mum for the past fortnight about the situation in Tamworth.

The January 3 fire at TFI in Murray Bridge has left the jobs of hundreds of workers up in the air.

The 417 visa holders have all been dismissed, and many permanent staffers temporarily stood down.

As of TFI’s last update on January 24, 340 employees had been redeployed to its Lobethal meat processing facility and the company was “in the process of making another 70 positions available there in the short term”.

About 150 new positions were also being made available at the Tamworth abattoir for TFI employees.

Ms Rae said the new employees had started the Bindaree induction process, which included some classroom time and on-the-job training.

“These individuals do have skills in the industry, so they’re just familiarising themselves with our operation, which is slightly different from others.”

Ms Rae said that, even though Bindaree was offering help for people to relocate to Inverell, these workers hadn’t requested it.

“These people were interested in coming and haven’t sought any relocation assistance,” she said.

“They’ve made their way to Inverell and started to establish themselves here.

“We’re still running advertisements and that offer is still available for others if they’re still interested; it applies to anyone interested in seeking options and opportunities with Bindaree Beef.”

The Leader has contacted the local TFI facility and its national media representatives for an update on the changes at the local abattoir, but no update has been given.

The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) said it also had received little information about the implications for Tamworth.

“I’ve had one conversation with Thomas Foods International chief executive officer Darren Thomas and he has advised us that it is his intention to want to relocate workers from Murray Bridge to Tamworth,” Newcastle and northern branch secretary Grant Courtney said.

“That’s great, but the point is that ... living in regional Australia, travel is the biggest issue – and for us to suggest that some of our Tamworth meatworkers now want to go and work in Murray Bridge? On the balance of probability I think I know what the answer would be.

“We haven’t seen [TFI offer] any relocation assistance.

“There needs to be some carrot: subsidised housing, relocation assistance, assistance getting kids into schools.

“The company’s silent on that.”

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