What is happening in the meat industry with the Victorian 'State of Disaster'

Meatworks will have to scale back the way they work. These businesses will stay open but operate differently from midnight Friday 8 August 2020.

Abattoirs across Victoria and meatpacking centres will reduce production by one-third and deck out workers in full personal protective gear – face masks, shields, and gowns. Staff will be temperature checked and tested regularly. This will apply to abattoirs and meatworks throughout Victoria, which are mostly located in regional Victoria.

The AMIEU has asked for clarification of reducing by one third as meat production is seasonal. We were advised that it meant that production could not be more than 66% of 'peak production'.

The alternative would be to have mass food shortages.

The AMIEU supports the provision of appropriate Personal Protective Committee during the State of Disaster, but it is essential to select the proper type, fitted to the individual workers and make sure that the wearing of PPE does not introduce further risks to health and safety. Remember that the selection must be in consultation with the workers and their Health and Safety Representatives.

Issues that need to be considered include:

  • Work environment in which PPE is used, such as wearing a shield in a humid environment may fog up and reduce the worker's vision.
  • Work tasks such as operating some bandsaws could make wearing a loose gown or gloves, which could be dragged into the plant, very dangerous.
  • Individual circumstances of workers may affect which kinds of PPE are suitable. For example some medical conditions, which can influence whether they can use certain items of equipment.

Choose PPE that meets current Australian Standards.

The Victorian Government has stated that if there's not compliance in businesses such as abattoirs, the Government will crack down further.

The Federal Government has announced that they are bringing in a 'pandemic leave disaster payment'. It will be a fortnight’s payment which will be available to workers who have exhausted, or do not have, sick leave and have been directed to stay at home by a public health official.

The Prime Minister said that "This pandemic is a disaster. And we need a disaster payment when it comes for people who have to isolate for a period of 14 days through no fault of their own, regardless of what job they're in or employment they're in."

To apply for the Commonwealth’s pandemic leave disaster payments phone 180 22 66

The “Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment” is a step forward but will not fix the hole in our COVID-19 defences. 

The $1500 a fortnight is the minimum wage when the average wage is double this amount. This means that nearly every fulltime worker will still suffer a financial penalty for isolating.

Only full wage replacement, can fix this.

Workers who develop coronavirus COVID-19 through exposure at work are entitled to Workers’ Compensation. To get this you need a WorkSafe Worker’s Injury Claim Form and a Doctor’s WorkSafe Certificate of Capacity.

For further detail contact: Gwynnyth Evans, Assistant Secretary, AMIEU Victorian Branch