JBS axes 100 jobs at Port Wakefield processing facility

Workers at the JBS pork processing facility at Port Wakefield were in shock last Thursday when they were told 102 jobs would be lost, effective as of Monday, as the business moved from a double to single shift operation.

While 280 employees have retained their jobs, 36 full time employees and 66 labour hire workers were advised ‘their services were no longer required.’

Workers at the JBS pork processing facility at Port Wakefield were in shock last Thursday when they were told 102 jobs would be lost, effective as of Monday, as the business moved from a double to single shift operation.

While 280 employees have retained their jobs, 36 full time employees and 66 labour hire workers were advised ‘their services were no longer required.’

“The company is well aware of the impact of this on the community, and the primary focus has been to mitigate the impact on the permanent Port Wakefield employees,” John Berry, JBS head of corporate and regulatory affairs, said.

“This change has been made after long consideration by the business, especially in relation to the impact on jobs, and we have had HR staff on site to assist those affected through redundancy packages and professional support.”

“The decision is based on the need to align the processing operations with supply and market conditions, partially driven by the severe drought and the consequent price increase of rations.”

Member for Narungga, Fraser Ellis MP, said the decision to cut shifts was a major blow for both workers and the electorate’s
economy.

“I feel for the workers who are impacted by this decision, and as a major processor and employer of regional people in SA, JBS is well aware of the impact such decisions have on local communities,” Mr Ellis said.

“I understand the decision at Port Wakefield is another impact of the drought which has far reaching consequences beyond the farmer, and the community and businesses in his or her immediate
district.

“All along major supply chains are impacted, and companies operating in regional areas, such as JBS, face specific challenges, locally, nationally and internationally.

“That said, the Port Wakefield job losses will impact on not only the local families facing uncertainty but on local businesses and town
morale.

“While a proportion of staff travel from Adelaide to work at the abattoir, many live in Balaklava, Port Wakefield (some having built houses there), and in the Copper Coast.

“I will be ensuring my cabinet colleagues are kept up to date with what this disappointing news means to the communities in the electorate.

“The sooner we start the Port Wakefield Overpass and township duplication project the better as that will bring a very welcome influx of jobs to Port Wakefield.“

Wakefield Regional Council (WRC) mayor, Rodney Reid, was also disappointed, and said a job loss of this scale was a big blow for the community.

“Our thoughts are with all 102 people who will now need to find new employment,” he said.

 “It’s already clear these job cuts will have a region-wide impact.

“We understand a large number of the workers live outside of the Wakefield region and commute in; meaning the effect will be felt far further than the Port Wakefield premises.

“We are eager to reach out and work with other neighbouring councils to provide stronger support for the workers and to the business as a whole during this tough period.

Mayor Reid said a smaller pool of job opportunities may mean people will have to move away to pursue new employment, which may be more challenging for those who have established homes, lifestyles and community connections.

“Looking at it from a personal level, if families need to move to gain new employment it will take children out of schools and sporting teams.

“Council has placed so much emphasis on both economic development and population growth, which are two of the four pillars of our Strategic Plan.

“We are keen to support our major businesses, including JBS through strategies like attracting new businesses to the region and advocating for the provision of economic infrastructure that will support local and prospective businesses, such as a gas pipeline and road improvements to improve freight efficiency.

“Council is also turning its attention to diversifying its economy further by developing the local tourism industry to bring more visitors to the region to create new jobs and attract new businesses, and is also advocating to be a key regional centre under the SA Government’s plans to decentralise
health services.

“Council works closely with RDA Yorke and Mid North on various economic development initiatives, including education and training courses to support new and intending businesses and to upskill local workers and we will be focusing now on bringing JBS workers who have lost their jobs into those programs as a matter of urgency.”

However some workers, particularly boners, may be able to find work at other abattoirs, with recruitment agencies always on the lookout for skilled people.

In the meantime, Mayor Reid said the job cuts bring home the important message of buying and supporting locally made and produced products.

“It also helps to reinforce Australian Pork’s famous line – ‘Get some pork on your fork’.