Meatworks closure 'a sad day' for community
UPDATE: A union official has visited the Wallangarra Meatworks site, describing the closure of the facility as a "sad day for the community".
Australasian Meat Industry Employees' Union Queensland branch acting assistant secretary Ian McLauchlan visited the site yesterday
"There are not a lot of other job opportunities around Wallangarra whatsoever... people I've spoken to are very worried about what other jobs are around for them in that particular area," he said.
"There are 71 jobs offers to those people if they wish to move to the Tamworth site but where you've got families with homes and things it may be difficult for people to move."
Meanwhile, Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie has described the closure as a frustrating situation but said Thomas Foods had done everything it could for employees.
"Firstly the closure is not a permanent closure, it's short-to-medium term," she said.
"They are doing what they can. The situation is out their control and they should be given credit for that."
Cr Dobie described the job losses as a 'blow for the region' but remained upbeat about the long-term outlook for the region.
"We're doing everything we can to get businesses moving to the region," she said.
"We're working with the Department of State Development to see what we can do to get businesses to move to the Southern Downs."
EARLIER: ONE of the region's biggest employers will shut its doors this week, with the shock announcement made to more than 80 workers today.
Employees of Wallangarra Meatworks - the state's largest sheep and goat processing plant - were hit with the news the meatworks will close for "the near to medium future".
Last year, the plant employed about 260 workers but the meatworks had been in a stand-down phase since April, when a number of staff were made redundant.
Last year the meatworks was temporarily closed and more jobs were slashed.
Thomas Foods International CEO Darren Thomas today told employees the meatworks would cease operations.
He said the closure was due to livestock shortages and difficult global trading conditions.
"In making this decision, we wanted to give our loyal employees some certainty with regards to their employment so they could move on with their lives and either seek alternative positions within our group or pursue other work opportunities elsewhere," he said.
Staff will be paid their respective entitlements, including any notice period and leave accruals.
Mr Thomas said several Wallangarra workers had already transferred to the company's Tamworth business.
"We are hopeful that others who have been offered the opportunity will follow suit," he said.
"Thomas Foods International is very hopeful of retaining skilled employees who wish to relocate to other operations within our group and we would offer what support and training we can in helping in this transition."
Thomas Foods International maintains large meat processing centres in Murray Bridge in South Australia and Tamworth in New South Wales.
The Wallangarra site had the capacity for 15,250 lamb, mutton and goat each week.