30 jobs lost at Steggles in Beresfield

RETRENCHMENTS: The Beresfield food plant.
RETRENCHMENTS: The Beresfield food plant.

AT least 30 people have made redundant at the Bartter Enterprises and Steggles Food plant at Beresfield, with unions saying more jobs will go in the coming months.

Australian Workers Union organiser John Boyd said yesterday 19 middle managers and 13 maintenance workers had been retrenched without notice on Tuesday. The union had been told another 15 jobs would go when the hatchery shut before October.

Mr Boyd said people were also retrenched this week at a Bartter plant at Hanwood near Griffith and at the Steggles-Bartter office in North Ryde.

He said the Beresfield factory and shop employed an estimated 600 to 700 people. It had been run by various owners over the years and processed chickens and turkeys from various farms in the Hunter and on the Central Coast.

Mr Boyd said the job cuts came after Australia's number three poultry company, the Baiada family's Baiada Poultry, bought the number two company, Steggles-Bartter, from the Bartter family. This meant Baiada was challenging the Ingham family as Australia's "chicken kings".

The deal was cleared on June 30 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission after Baiada agreed to sell Bartter's Victorian operations to another operator, La Ionica Poultry.

A spokesman for Baiada managing director John Camilleri said the company had no comment on the job cuts or the restructuring.

Mr Boyd said Baiada took control of the Beresfield business on Monday, and "marched in the next day telling people they had lost their jobs on the spot".

"There are agreements covering the way that redundancies are to be handled at this site and yet the new owners simply rolled up and summonsed people into a room," Mr Boyd said.

"We had no warning this was happening, then all of these employees are called in and they tell them that in any merger there are redundancies and by the way, you've been made redundant as of today. It was a disgrace."

Mr Boyd said it was no way to treat people who in many cases had "20 or 30 years" of service at Beresfield.