THOMAS Foods International (TFI) has cut ties with a labour hire company shortly after the resolution of a worker pay dispute in Tamworth – but the meatworkers union says that’s not good enough.
TFI confirmed to The Leader in a statement that it “no longer engages Ananda”, which had provided workers for its Tamworth abattoir, and would now directly hire workers on 417 visas.
The union said it was “pleased” with the news, but called for the company to commit to ending labour hire practices.
“We are concerned that Thomas Foods will simply replace Ananda with another dodgy labour hire agency and more black market exploitation will continue,” Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) spokesman Justin Smith said.
“We urge Thomas Foods to do the right thing and commit to directly employing all workers at their Tamworth site, and to completely phase out all labour hire engagement.”
TFI refused the Leader’s request for an interview on the matter, and Ananda Aust did not return calls, emails and text messages.
The news of the relationship ending came after eight casual workers, hired by Ananda for TFI, made a claim through the union they had been underpaid tens of thousands of dollars.
That was settled privately between Ananda and the workers, with the labour hire company paying them an undisclosed amount.
In response to questions about the settlement and the TFI-Ananda relationship, TFI provided this statement (in full):
“Thomas Foods International always seeks to act in good faith and provide the best possible conditions for workers across all our sites.
“This was an isolated dispute between Ananda Pty Ltd and the AMIEU representing a small group of employees employed by Ananda Pty Ltd.
“We are informed that the matter was resolved privately and to the satisfaction of all parties involved.
“Following our own review, TFI was supportive of the labour hire agency Ananda settling those outstanding matters with its employees.
“We understand that this has occurred.
“TFI no longer engages Ananda and have instead made a decision to employ workers on 417 visas directly and on a casual basis.
“Some of the workers previously sourced through Ananda have been offered positions with TFI under this new arrangement.”
Mr Smith reiterated the union’s position that the company – one of the city’s major employers – had a moral obligation to directly hire and train local young people.
“Tamworth’s youth unemployment rate is double the national average and it is the responsibility of major employers like TFI to do their part to help end this crisis by providing secure, reliable jobs for our kids, and training for future career pathways.”
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