Swift’s King Island abattoir re-opens

Posted by Isobel Drake on 3rd April 2009

Premier David Bartlett has confirmed the Tasmanian Government and JBS Swift have agreed on terms that will enable the King Island abattoir to re-open today.

The abattoir, which processes the Island’s renowned premium beef, had been closed since last week when the owners stood down 100 workers without pay. The State Government has since stepped-in as the company is a major employer on King Island – where the population stands at around 1700.

“My immediate focus has always been on getting the workers back to work as soon as possible,” Mr Bartlett said. “I am very pleased that an agreement was finalised this afternoon which will enable that to happen while JBS Swift undertake a review of their operations and cost structures.”

The financial assistance will essentially reimburse the company for losses it may incur over the review period as a direct result of reopening the facility.

Government-appointed independent auditors will ensure that the appropriate level of financial assistance is provided. The review will take up to eight weeks.

“The Government’s long term objective is to secure the ongoing operation of the King Island abattoir as a viable and sustainable business and to this end we will be continuing discussions with JBS Swift on the challenges it is facing and the best way forward,” Mr Bartlett added. “I am under no illusions that this will be an easy task, and I cannot make promises or guarantees, however we are committed to proactively working with JBS Swift to better understand the issues and challenges facing the operations of the King Island abattoir.”

Representatives from the Department of Economic Development are working through issues with the company, the King Island Council and other stakeholders, the Premier’s Office advised.