JBS scales back Dinmore operations to ‘protect long-term future’


Jon Condon, BEEF Central (AU)

September 9, 2020


In a clear sign of the depth of difficulty currently being experienced in red meat processing this year, JBS Australia has announced it will put off about 600 full-time staff at the company’s flagship Dinmore beef plant west of Brisbane.


JBS says operations will be scaled-back at Dinmore for ‘the foreseeable future’, due to a range of issues impacting livestock supply and market conditions in the COVID-19 environment.


Australia’s largest meat processing facility, Dinmore, like other plants across the country, has struggled to maintain efficient rates of kill this year, since widespread rain arrived in March.


In recent times the plant has been operating two shifts daily, for three days each week, for a total of six weekly shifts. Dinmore closed for a fortnight in late August, only re-opening for business on Monday this week.


Effectively, recent three-day-week operations has meant that staff were receiving no more than 60 percent of their normal weekly wage. Clearly the risk in this was that staff would eventually drift away to other, more reliable full-time employment.


In a move designed to try to preserve a further 1150 full-time jobs at Dinmore, the plant’s second daily shift has now been discontinued, with the intention being to run the plant on a single daily shift, five days each week. It means that effectively, those remaining staff will now receive a full weekly income again.


“This is not a decision we have arrived at lightly,” JBS Australia chief executive officer Brent Eastwood told Beef Central when announcing the move this afternoon.


Already facing a severe livestock supply shortage following an extended period of drought, the COVID-19 crisis had significantly impacted the Dinmore business, he said.


The situation had been further exacerbated by the market inequity created by the Federal Government’s JobKeeper Program, Mr Eastwood said. Beef Central wrote about distortions created by Jobkeeper in meat processing in this earlier item.


“The market conditions mean there will be no work for around 600 full time jobs for the foreseeable future,” Mr Eastwood said. “However, the difficult but necessary action we’ve taken allows us to preserve a further 1150 full time jobs during this challenging period, while protecting the long-term future of our Dinmore facility and our other Queensland beef processing operations.”


He said JBS management was acutely aware that the decision would impact many families in the greater Ipswich and southern and western-Brisbane region...