A UNION is confident there is a veritable army of unemployed locals willing and able to work in Tamworth’s abattoirs if given the chance.
The Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union (AMIEU) set up in Peel St yesterday to gather the signatures of locals wanting to crack the processing industry.
The petition is part of the union’s campaign to encourage the region’s red- and white-meat processors to reduce their reliance on overseas workers.
The union estimates about 50 per cent of the 1200-strong workforce at Baiada Poultry, Thomas Foods International and Teys Australia are foreigners on temporary visas.
Experienced slaughterman Murray Glover recently made the move from Cairns to Tamworth with his wife and three young children.
The 44-year-old was knocked back without explanation for a job at one of the city’s largest abattoirs and he said it was clear the companies favoured foreign workers.
“It’s a bit disappointing,” he said. “Do they employ the overseas workers so they can pay them less?”
Kirsty Cameron, 38, and her partner, Rodney Clare, 54, have also been unsuccessful in cracking the industry following a move down from Roma in Queensland.
One company’s recruitment officer allegedly told Mr Clare, who has since found a job in the construction industry, that he was too old to work for them.
“They get people who want to work applying for these jobs and they miss out,” Ms Cameron said. “I really think locals should be given priority over overseas workers.”
The meat processing companies contacted yesterday for clarification on their hiring practices either declined to comment or did not return The Leader’s calls.
However, one industry insider said the companies simply could not find enough locals willing to endure the “blood and guts” of abattoir work, or the strict drug testing regimes.
AMIEU representative Grant Courtney said the union would continue collecting the names and numbers of willing workers today before presenting them to the processors.