JBS Brooklyn abattoir closed down

Coronavirus has caused the closure of Victoria's largest abattoir

Coronavirus
BROOKLYN CLOSURE: JBS' Brooklyn abattoir has been ordered to close, after five workers tested positive to coronavirus.

BROOKLYN CLOSURE: JBS' Brooklyn abattoir has been ordered to close, after five workers tested positive to coronavirus.

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There have now been five workers who have tested positive to COVID-19 at JBS' Brooklyn abattoir.

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Victoria's largest abattoir, JBS, Brooklyn, has been ordered to close, after a further four workers at the plant tested positive to COVID-19.

That brings the total number of workers who have tested positive to five, with the company ordered to cease operations and undergo a complete, deep clean.

A JBS spokesman confirmed the plant had been shut down and the workforce was being tested.

All suppliers had been notified.

In a previous letter to customers, JBS Australia chief executive Brent Eastwood said the company had implemented "strong company-wide procedures and practices to address the potential spread of coronavirus, consistent with the advice of both national and state health authorities.

"In addition, in order to respond to changing developments with the virus, JBS Australia has put in place a team of internal and external experts including medical professionals, to provide advice and guidance to the company," Mr Eastwood said.

The company was focused on ensuring continued supply during these challenging times as it strove to meet our customers' demand requirements.

The Brooklyn plant has a daily capacity of 1,400 head of cattle and 8,200 head of small stock.

The plant employs 1,230 people.

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Victoria's Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said JBS had been quickly shut down and deep cleaned.

He said the entire workforce was now effictively in quarantine, with very broad testing being done.

The union representing workers at Brooklyn said its members might be stood down, without pay, after the company was ordered to close its doors.

United Workers Union Logistics Director Matt Toner said employees had "slaved away" for JBS during the pandemic.

"In return, the company must ensure all workers are provided with paid pandemic leave for the period of the site closure," Mr Toner said.

"Unless JBS takes these union member's demands seriously, the virus will continue to spread and the facility could take longer to reopen.

"This could have devastating effects on our food supply chain and could leave the supermarket's meat shelves bare."

Workers at JBS had continued to work at a back-breaking pace to keep up with panic buying, even during the worst of the pandemic.

In return the company needed to ensure all workers were paid during the site closure, which had been brought about through no fault of their own.

The UWU wrote to JBS on Sunday, calling on them to:

  • Share the mega profits their workers made by paying all workers pandemic leave for the duration of shutdown.
  • Prioritise the safety of their workforce with a thorough deep clean, immediate notification of further cases and special training for worker representatives.

"We don't want JBS to join the long list of bad companies that have only cared about their bank balance and not the welfare of their workers or the general public," Mr Toner said.

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