Dubbo’s Fletcher International Exports has disputed union claims it favours foreign workers over Australians.
The Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union (AMIEU) NSW Branch is calling for Fletcher’s to employ more local workers after the abattoir applied for more than 100 foreign work visas.
AMIEU NSW State Secretary Patricia Fernandez said the immigration department informed the union earlier this year that Fletcher’s had applied for 150 foreign work visas.
“We believe local workers are increasingly being overlooked for jobs at Fletcher’s abattoir in favour of overseas workers on temporary work visas”, she said.
“Management at Fletcher’s have said that they can’t find local workers who are willing to work at the abattoir which is why they claim they need to hire temporary visa workers.”
But Roger Fletcher hit back at the union saying they have come to town from Sydney looking to stir up trouble with false claims.
“I am sure we are the biggest non-government company west of the Blue Mountains and we employ more regional Australians than anyone else in the region,” he said.
“If we could find another 50 Australians that could pass our entry test and can do our job and are fit, we are quite open to employing them; we put new people on every week.
“But we have some stipulations such as they have to pass a drugs test and not everyone that wants a job with us does.
“We are proud of our achievements and proud that we look after our people, but if we don’t have the foreign workers we would not be able to employ our Australian workers, we’re on a chain system, every employee in that chain is important to us and each other, but I am always looking to give Australians jobs.”
Ms Fernandez said she met with multiple local employment agencies who said they have suitable candidates to fill vacancies at Fletcher’s who are available to start work today.
“The union must protect the employment of locals in rural areas where employment is sometimes hard to find,” she said.
“In the meat industry, training is conducted on-the-job. When temporary workers are hired to do all the unskilled jobs, it removes the pathway for local workers to go from lower-paid labouring jobs into high paid, high skilled, tradesman roles like boner and slaughterman.
“We want to work with Fletcher’s to address issues they feel impede hiring more Australians.”