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‘We haven’t been impacted’: WA abattoirs unaffected by CPSU strikes

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Adam PoulsenCountryman
WA abattoirs appear to have avoided major disruptions after Government-employed meat inspectors and vets went on strike nationwide, prompting fears operations would “grind to a halt”.
Camera IconWA abattoirs appear to have avoided major disruptions after Government-employed meat inspectors and vets went on strike nationwide, prompting fears operations would “grind to a halt”. Credit: Jon Gellweiler/RegionalHUB

WA abattoirs appear to have avoided major disruptions after Government-employed meat inspectors and vets went on strike nationwide, sparking fears operations would “grind to a halt”.

Members of the Community and Public Service Union walked off the job for an hour on November 8 and November 10 as part of the protected industrial action.

The CPSU also imposed an overtime ban as it remains locked in a wider pay dispute with the Federal Government to secure a 20 per cent wage increase over three years for all Commonwealth public servants.

The industrial action applied to export abattoirs only but was condemned by the Australian Meat Industry Council, with chief executive Patrick Hutchinson warning operations would “grind to a halt”.

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“We are seeing massive increases in livestock waiting to be processed as stock are being sold to meat processors in anticipation of a dry season, so this action couldn’t come at a worse time,” he said.

“It is extremely unfair and disappointing that… crucial roles in the export system are being weaponised to hold our industry hostage to wider public servant bargaining.”

Australia is home to 86 export works — including eight in WA — running 94 shifts across 92 processing chains.

It is understood about 300 CPSU members employed as meat inspectors and vets were expected to take part in the strike action.

However, there were no disruptions at any of the facilities Countryman contacted, including WA Meat Marketing Co-operative’s Katanning plant.

“We haven’t been impacted,” WAMMCO chief executive Coll MacRury said.

WAMMCO chief executive Coll MacRury.
Camera IconWAMMCO chief executive Coll MacRury. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman

“There is (CPSU members employed by WAMMCO), but they said they were not doing it (striking). It doesn’t mean they won’t down the track, but at this stage, we’re okay.”

The action comes as many abattoirs — including WAMMCO — are running an hour or more overtime daily to meet demand.

Mr MacRury said WAMMCO was solidly booked for the next “three or four months”.

Spokesmen for two other export abattoirs, who did not want to be identified, said they were also unaffected.

Other facilities were unable to be contacted or declined to comment.

CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly said the action followed the union’s rejection of the Albanese Government’s revised pay offer of 11.2 per cent over three years.

“Our union came to the bargaining table with a pay claim that was front-loaded because our members were telling us that the cost-of-living crisis was biting now,” she said.

“Unsurprisingly, the Government’s revised pay offer which did not take on board this message from union members, failed to garner clear support from employees.”

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