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JBS Cobram stand down extended for months

April 19, 2017

JBS Cobram employees were called to a meeting on Wednesday to say the plant's shut down would continue until the end of the season.

Workers at JBS's Cobram plant have been told they won't be returning to work for months, with the current stand down expected to now run until September or October.

It's understood the extension could stretch the stand down out for as long as eight months, although specific dates have not been confirmed.

At a meeting on Wednesday afternoon, workers were told that production at the plant would be stood down for the rest of the season, due to unavailability of suitable livestock.

Following the meeting, JBS also confirmed that a number of staff positions had been made redundant.

Leaving the meeting, many did not wish to speak to the media, but many said it was disappointing.

"It's still a temporary stand down, but it won't be open until October, November," one worker said.

"It is what it is," another worker said. 

A letter handed out to workers, sighted by the Courier, said support sessions would be held for employees affected by the stand down.

A temporary closure at a JBS plant in Tasmania has also been extended, and the Courier understands that there have been nine major closures of processing plants at different companies across eastern Australian due to the country-wide shortage of available lamb and mutton.

JBS director John Berry told the Courier that it was a difficult decision to extend the stand down, which would affect 241 employees.

"We've invested a lot of money into the Cobram facility and across training our staff,'' he said. 

"(To make this decision) is a difficult process for us, and it is because of a shortage of available livestock.

"We have a structured program in place to help people deal with this and we remain committed as a company to supporting people through what is a very difficult time.''

JBS said it would be providing updates to employees as they became available.

Workers said many were left wondering what they would do - many expressed concern as they had families to support.

It's understood workers cannot apply for Centrelink payments, as they haven't been made redundant.

Some expressed disappointment that Premier Daniel Andrews had not yet spoken out about the issue.

Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy called on the premier to visit Cobram in state parliament last month in the wake of the first stand down announcement. 

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