According to a discussion paper published by the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC), about two thirds (63%) of red meat processors are prevented from running at capacity due to ‘Labour Deficit Epidemic’ in the country. AMIC research also found that there are currently 3,780 job vacancies in the red meat industry.
AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson called on both of the major political parties to address the key challenge accessing skilled and unskilled workers in the red meat manufacturing industry.
“As one of the largest regional employers, and the country’s largest trade exposed manufacturing industry, we are calling on the Government to reduce the burden so red meat processors and the red meat supply chain can get on with supplying Australia and global markets with the world’s best red meat,” said Hutchinson.
The four key employment areas identified by the AMIC that are in dire need of government support are: training; skilling the long-term unemployed; access to overseas workers with fit-for-purpose visas as part of a total employee mix and permanent migration into regional areas.
Hutchinson suggested that opposition party leader Bill Shorten’s idea to offer more incentives to overseas workers would place producers under more pressure.
“The red meat supply chain is facing a drought of the most severe magnitude — a drought in local workers who are willing to be trained up in our industry, and a visa system that is not fit for purpose. This is denying us ongoing access to overseas workers who have been trained to do the jobs that local workers are either unable to fulfil because of the labour requirements or because they are unwilling to stay in the industry. Further to this, Mr Shorten’s pledge to increase the pay of overseas workers by $11,000 per annum will add tens of millions to the industry’s wage bill, significantly impacting our industry’s ability to achieve a permanent and stable workforce.”
According to AMIC’s paper, the labour market challenges include independent butchers, who are finding it increasingly difficult to fill job vacancies or do not have funding support to take on apprentices
“Our members’ priority is a stable permanent work force,” Hutchinson added.