Erin Brochovich in Murphy's Creek.
Erin Brochovich in Murphy's Creek. Bev Lacey

US advocate for underdog hears fears of workers

WELL-KNOWN United States environmental crusader and Shine Lawyers ambassador Erin Brockovich says she always learns something new when she comes to Toowoomba.

Ms Brockovich yesterday met members and representatives of the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) at the Tiddalac retreat in Murphys Creek.

She heard about problems facing meatworkers including long-term local workers' concerns their voices weren't being heard.

Workers were worried those on sub-class visas, who weren't going to get Australian citizenships, were able to vote on workplace conditions when they were likely to be in a workplace for only three to six months.

Representatives from the AMIEU voiced their opinions at the meeting which allowed Ms Brockovich, Shine representatives and AMIEU members to discuss important developments in laws protecting meat industry employees, and said they didn't know where to turn to or who to approach about the problem.

One worker said he found it "quite stressful" those workers were able to vote on the working conditions.

"The long-term workers are getting shafted," Ms Brockovich said.

Ms Brockovich inspired the Oscar award-winning motion picture Erin Brockovich in 2000 (starring Julia Roberts) after she spearheaded the largest settlement in US history for a toxic tort involving 600 residents from the Californian town of Hinkley.

Ms Brockovich will be in Dalby today speaking with farmers about their issues with coal seam gas.