The following article is a piece I wrote whilst in Townsville documenting the AMIEU “live export exports jobs” campaign and was published on the Humane Chain website:
“Live export exports jobs” echoed through Townsville on Tuesday as local meat workers, Union representatives and politicians launched a public campaign to phase out live export by 2015. Writes Reuben Brand.
Labor candidate for Herbert Tony Mooney expressed his concern about job losses at the launch of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union’s (AMIEU) “live export exports jobs” campaign in Townsville this week.
This year alone, 960 full-time Australian meat workers’ jobs have been lost nation-wide. In response to the large number of jobs already lost, Mr Mooney announced that he supported the AMIEU’s campaign to end live export by 2015.
“Last week I experienced a day in the life of a meat worker – it’s backbreaking work, so I appreciate what these workers do and their contribution to the community and economy.
“Nearly 300 jobs have been lost in Townsville, that’s just plain dumb – so I am supporting this campaign to end live export and if elected to the seat of Herbert look forward to working with the Union and broader industry to address the issue,” said Mooney.
“My father was a butcher so I’ve been a long-time supporter of the meat industry and meat processing,” he said.
The AMIEU press conference was set on the headland in front of the seaport which is frequented by live export vessels. Local meat workers peppered the headland as they came out in solidarity to fight for their jobs, two of whom were dressed as seven ft. trays of packaged meat.
Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh raised her concerns in Parliament last week saying that it is not in the long term interest of livestock producers for the industry to decline.
“Top if the list will be the impact of live cattle exports,” said Bligh.
“I have met with the Meat Processing Industry and I know they are very concerned about the number of live cattle being sent overseas, instead of processed here…abattoirs and the jobs of meat workers, are not viable without a consistent supply of stock.” She said
AMIEU Federal Secretary, Brian Crawford said that, “Every shipload of animals exported and processed overseas means less jobs right here in Queensland.
Local meat worker, Tiffany Kerle spoke about the huge impact that live export is having on Australian workers, their families and local communities.
“The loss of jobs and scaling-back of shifts is particularly hard on working mothers who have to be there for their family and for student who are trying to pay for their education.” Said Kerle.
“This year, for 267 people who no longer had employment it was just another hit, we all struggled to make payments on rent, mortgages, cars and to put food on the table due to live export,” she said.
The AMIEU is calling for the Government to phase out live export, implement a chilled meat trade and in doing so, recognise the huge benefits that keeping Australian meat processing jobs in Australia will have on the economy and rural and regional communities.