In this file:


·         Victoria’s Midfield plant back at work after precautionary COVID closure

·         JBS Australia accused of asking COVID-19 positive staff to return to work



Victoria’s Midfield plant back at work after precautionary COVID closure


Terry Sim, BEEF Central (Australia) 

July 24, 2020


VICTORIAN meat processor Midfield appears to have avoided any spread of COVID-19 to its Warrnambool abattoir after resuming operations yesterday.


The processor decided to resume operations yesterday after several hundred of its workers tested negative for coronavirus.


Midfield closed its plant on Monday to test about 900 workers after a meat inspector who visited the plant early last week showing no symptoms subsequently tested positive to COVID-19.


No Midfield workers have reportedly tested positive with coronavirus since the pandemic started, however the company said staff who had close contact with the meat inspector are isolating and will be re-tested before returning to work.


Mr McKenna told Beef Central that all test results received to date have been negative with “only a handful to go” and eight workers are isolating.


Midfield today said it recommenced processing after being given the all clear by the Department of Health and Human Services to maintain normal operations.


The Warrnambool processor’s experience contrasts sharply with that of several other Victorian meat processors where the COVID-19 case tallies continue to rise. As of yesterday, the COVID-19 cases connected with meat processors included 72 at Tottenham meat packer Somerville Retail Services, 58 at the JBS Australia abattoir in Brooklyn, 29 at the Australian Lamb Company abattoir in Colac and 10 cases linked to Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown.


Thanks all round for Midfield resumption ...





JBS Australia accused of asking COVID-19 positive staff to return to work


by David Simmons, Business News Australia

24 July 2020


Meat processor JBS Australia has been accused of allegedly asking staff that tested positive for COVID-19 to return to work at a site in Brooklyn, Melbourne, along with other breaches of virus restrictions.


According to the United Workers Union (UWU), the company allegedly placed profits over safety and has put workers' lives at risk during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.


A spokesperson from the UWU, Susie Allison, says the organisation has "serious concerns" about the company's handling of safety during the pandemic.


The union alleges that JBS asked COVID-19 positive workers to return to the Brooklyn abattoir and tested workers on site without proper safety precautions in place.


"We have had reports of overcrowding in the locker rooms with little regard for social distancing. We have been told about the use of faulty electronic thermometers," says Allison.


"Workers were tested onsite at JBS in Brooklyn. The Union supports worksite testing as a quick and efficient way of ensuring workers have access to testing.


"However, we're concerned about JBS's oversight of this process and management's commitment to safety. We have heard worrying stories of people who have tested positive being asked by the company to return to the site."


The union has also criticised the company for not supporting affected workers with paid pandemic leave, leaving staff in a dire financial situation.


"Workers at JBS have continued to work at a back-breaking pace to keep up with panic buying, even during the worst of the pandemic, and in return, the company needs to ensure all workers are paid during the site closure, which has been brought about through no fault of their own.


"JBS must share profits with workers by paying all workers pandemic leave for the duration of the shutdown."


JBS has been contacted to confirm the UWU's allegations but Business News Australia has not received a statement from the meat processor at the time of writing.


The allegations come as Victoria has reported 300 new cases of COVID-19 today...