Axe to fall on 750 jobs as major employers close

UNIONS are in talks with close to 750 Ipswich workers who will lose their jobs as Steggles and Churchill Abattoir announced they would close.

About 500 workers at the Churchill Abattoir will be without a job from the last day of slaughter on September 28 while about 250 workers at the Steggles chicken processing plant at Wulkuraka will lose their jobs in January.

But unions say 900 workers will be affected.

Production at the Steggles factory will start winding back next month.

Churchill Abattoir Company director Barry Moule said cattle shortages and high prices had impacted the beef industry and without the capacity to pass on increasing costs, customers had struggled to maintain cattle numbers.

"Without the numbers, we do not have a sustainable business, we need to work to our production capacity - at least five days a week - the current four days each week is unsustainable," Mr Moule said.


>> 'We do not have a sustainable business': 500 jobs gone

There are plans for Churchill Abattoir to reopen the business as an export plant within six to 12 months.

The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union says it will do everything it can to support affected workers.  

"It'll be devastating for the local community. How can you take that amount of wages out of the local area and it not have a significant effect on the local economy," union spokesman Matt Journeaux said.

Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard extended her sympathy to the workers who have lost their jobs.   

"These job losses are devastating for workers and families in Ipswich. It is a blow to our community and will have a flow-on effect to our local economy," Ms Howard said.   

Ms Howard spoke to the federal MPs and the mayor-elect this morning regarding yesterday's shock announcements.

Ms Howard said the state government had contacted the companies.  

The Department of State Development is ready to activate rapid response services to assist employees if required, Ms Howard said.