Company Takeovers & Union Fees Rise

Newsletter June 2008

Tasman Meats/ Swift Australia
Tasman Meats has been sold to Swift Australia.  Swift Australia already operates four works in Queensland at Dinmore, Beef City, Rockhampton  and Townsville.

The acquisition of Tasman adds Brooklyn, Cobram and Yarrawonga in Victoria, and King Island, Devonport and Longford in Tasmania.  A feedlot at Yambinya in New South Wales is also part of the package.

The Tasman retail outlets were not part of the sale. They continue to be owned by Catalfamo.

Swift Australia is in turn owned by a Brazilian company JBS Friboi, the largest meat processors in the world.  In the same week that Friboi purchased Tasman, it also purchased two meat works in the USA, National Beef and Smithfield.  These purchases, including the purchase of Tasman, means that JBS Friboi employs 63,000 workers worldwide and has a cattle slaughter capacity of 79,200 head per day plus 48,000 pigs per day, plus the Tasman Group capacity for smallstock.

The Union had premininary discussions with Neville Tarrel, the human resources manager at Swift Australia, and it has been agreed that the parties will commence jto negotiate a new Agreement to operate at the Brooklyn works to replace the current agreement.

The Swift purchase of Tasman should bring stability and long term employment for our members at each of the three Victorian sites.

KR Castlemaine/Don Smallgoods
Also purchased recently is KR Castlemaine, which has been sold to George Weston, the owner of Don Smallgoods.

George Weston has appointed Mel Sutton the current CEO at Don, to be the CEO of the combined business which will be called Don KRC and will operate from 1st July 2008.

Although the workers at Castlemaine have been told that their ongoing jobs will continue, George Weston management has refused to give any indication as to the future of Don Smallgoods at the Blackshaws Rd site in North Altona.  The only statement George Weston will make is that they are currently undertaking a review of what is required for the needs of the new Don KRC business and until that is concluded, by late July, it will not be in a position to give any indication of the future of the works at Blackshaws Rd, or for their employees at the Watsonia site in Western Australia. 

The Union has attempted on many occasions to find the trugh among the many rumours circulating jabout Don’s future at North Altona, but George Weston management continues with its line that it will not be in a position to know until the end of July. 
Negotiation for a new agreement is scheduled to commence at Don in early August.  The first agreement for the Castlemaine site is also  scheduled to commence at about the same time.  There are many workers at Castlemaine waiting on the outcome of these negotiations to determine whether or not they will remain with the new Don KRC.  The current wgaes and conditions at Castlemaine are well below the standard of the Dons wages and conditions and of the new Don KRC competitors Primo and Hans.  The Union recently held meetings in Castlemaine with the Sudanese community at KR Castlemaine to discuss their particular problems.

Fees Increase
The COM has resolved at its meeting on 22nd, 23rd May that the Union subscription would increase from $7.20 per week to $7.70 per week ($3.85 for half ticket) from 1st July 2008.  It was also resolved that the COM would review the membership fee annually at its May meeting.  The Union fee has not increased since 2005 and is lower than most Unions.