NSW abbatoir to be prosecuted again

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 17th August 2010

NSW abbatoir Ramsey Food Processing will be prosecuted for alleged underpayments, totalling more than $60,000, for workers laid off in 2008.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a prosecution against the operator of the beef and veal abattoir at South Grafton, in NSW, with documents lodged in the Federal Court in Sydney allegeing that the company denied 11 of its employees more than $60,000 when it terminated their employment.

Facing court over alleged contraventions of workplace laws is Ramsey Food Processing Pty Ltd and its director/company secretary Stuart Bruce Ramsey, who is also abattoir manager.

The underpayment allegedly comprises $33,683 in severance payments, $16,219 in accrued annual leave and $10,234 wages owed in lieu of notice.

It is alleged that Ramsey knowingly breached workplace laws when he directed his then personnel officer not to pay the workers their outstanding entitlements.

The company faces a maximum penalty of $33,000 per breach and Ramsey a maximum penalty of $6600 per breach.

Ramsey Food Processing has already been fined a total of  $143,000 in the Land and Environment Court in February this year, for charges relating to the pollution of the Musk Valley Creek with untreated abbatoir effluent in October 2007.

The Grafton abbatoir’s purchase by Stuart Ramsey and reopening in 1998 was greeted with enthusiasm, re-employing workers laid off when the abbatoir was closed in 1997, and supported by then-Mayor Shirley Adams and with support from State and Federal governments and 948000 kilolitres of subsidised water from the Grafton Council.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says a decision to prosecute over the unpaid entitlements was taken after a lengthy, complex investigation and the failure of the employer to rectify the underpayments.

“We treat allegations of deliberate withholding of employee entitlements very seriously,” he said.