THERE have been ongoing community concerns related to the Scone meatworks including pollution, the use of international workers and safety standards.
Local residents often report a foul odour from the meatworks, like the smell of fermenting dog food and depending on the weather conditions it can be smelt throughout the township.
There have also been reports of polluted run-off to the west of the plant, into the residential area between the railway line and the highway.
The Environmental Protection Agency has worked with the various companies which have owned the Scone meatworks to ensure remediation measures are put in place to prevent pollution from their facility and the public can contact them to report pollution by phoning 131 555.
When the meatworks was owned by Primo, the company used employment agencies to recruit staff on 417 working visas mainly from Korea, China and Taiwan.
This practice led to resentment from locals citing missed employment opportunities and the lack of cultural education provided to the workers led to issues in the broader community.
There have been reports of the overseas workers being mistreated including placing the workers in cramped living conditions, not paying them proper wages, sexual harassment and threatening to terminate them if they report any injustices.
The new owners, JBS Australia, tend to employ overseas workers from Sudan.
On April 7, 2011 Chih Ming Lin, a 29 year old Taiwanese worker was crushed to death when an abattoir blast freezer collapsed.
A build-up of ice between the structural ceiling and the drop ceiling contributed to the collapse.
Following Mr Lin’s death, WorkCover issued a safety alert for employers to check on refrigeration temperature and humidity controls and remove any ice-build up.
The cause of death was found to be traumatic asphyxia.
Issues with the payment of proper award rates, highlighted in the WorkCover report, were referred to Fair Work Australia for further investigation.
The site of the current meatworks was once one of several small slaughter houses in Scone which supplied fresh meat daily for local butchers.
It was originally owned by local butcher Fred Eichler in the 1940’s.
Fred Eichler sold his slaughter house and butcher shop to Harry Hayes in 1949; who gradually developed the meatworks.
Harry Hayes sold it to Trevor Wadland in 1979 and later he sold it to the Millan family.
In 1999 the Millan family sold it to Primo and in 2015 JBS Global became the owners and operators.
JBS Australia is a division of the JBS Global group of companies, founded in Brazil and is the largest meat processor in the world.
The sale was subject to key conditions, including reporting to the government on its compliance with the conditions every six months.
In September 2015, the Australian Broadcasting Commission reported there was an application before the New South Wales Department of Planning to more than double its kills to more than 55,000 units per week, however the Department of Planning confirmed via email in November the same year that “…the proposal never came to the Department as the owners sold the business to a Brazilian company who have yet decided whether they will make any submissions.”
- Taiwanese meatworkers harassed, told not to pay tax unions say, ABC, March 7, 2014.
- Working holiday visa workers being ripped off and harassed, 7:30 Report, ABC, March 6, 2014.
- Primo sale approved, with protections to ensure Scone abattoir stays open, ABC, March 5, 2015.