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Workers at Victoria’s largest abattoir JBS, in Melbourne’s western suburb of Brooklyn, may be stood down without pay after the company was ordered to close its doors. Four workers tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total to five.

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.

United Workers Union wrote to the company on Sunday 12 July, calling on them to:

  • Share the mega profits their workers made by paying all workers pandemic leave for the duration of shutdown.
  • Prioritise the safety of their workforce with a thorough deep clean, immediate notification of further cases and special training for worker representatives.

If JBS does not agree to these demands they will jeopardise not only the health of their workforce but the food supply chain in Victoria, potentially leading to meat shortages across the state.

Quotes attributed to United Workers Union Director of Logistics Matt Toner:

“These workers have slaved away for JBS during the pandemic and delivered mega profits. In return, the company must ensure all workers are provided with paid pandemic leave for the period of the site closure.

“Unless JBS takes these union member’s demands seriously, the virus will continue to spread and the facility could take longer to reopen. This could have devastating effects on our food supply chain and could leave the supermarket’s meat shelves bare.

“We don’t want JBS to join the long list of bad companies that have only cared about their bank balance and not the welfare of their workers or the general public.”



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