Smithton

Other Names

  • HS Greenham’s
  • Greenham’s
  • Blue Ribbon

Current Operation

  • Operating as at 2013.

Location

Australia. Smithton

Map Smithton 001Source – Hema maps. Australia Truckies Atlas

Owner

  • Blue Ribbon – established3
  • Ian Paterson 20015
  • Greenhams – 20024
    • Plant Manager Jack Erichson4
    • Greenham also own Tongala Abattoir (Vic)
      • have been operating in Victoria since 1860’s
    • Greenham’s is a family-run and operated business

Operation

  • Premium quality beef to USA. Japan, buying dairy cos, bulls, heavy beef cows, Jap Ox, calves and yearlings7
  • Greenham’s supply 2 annual burseries $10,000 to young people in Vic and Tasmania further their careers in dairy or beef industry7
  • Process 10,000 t beef annually
  • supplier catchment of 3,000 properties over Tasmania and King Island

History

Some articles are in reference to the meat industry in Tasmania in general and not just specifically the Smithton works

1941

  • Meeting held at town hall to discuss proposal of establishment of abattoir and saleyards at Smithton2
    • At the time 17 slaughtering places existed in Circular head municipality2
      • hygiene and disease of serious concern due to lack of inspections and disposal of offal unsatisfactory with dogs and pigs having access.2
      • water availability  was inadequate for some with poor drainage2
    • New facility main purpose was to ensure clean, wholesome product assuring meat production under hygienic conditions.2
    • Paddocks to be provided for grazing free of charge some distance from abattoir so animals only walked to facility once a fortnight2

    1958

  • Josef Chromy – a Czechoslovakian who fled to Tasmania in 1950 after WWII.3
    • started a butcher shop in Bernie 19573
    • Changed the butcher shop name to ‘Blue Ribbon Meat Products in 19583
    • Initial turnover of $160,000 pa, 5 employees, over 20 years developed the company, acquiring farms, 18 butcher shops, piggeries, distribution centres, factories and abattoirs.3

1972

  • Blue Ribbon aims to establish export standard abattoir3
    • sell to overseas markets premium lamb and beef cuts from Tasmania3

1979

  • Blue Ribbon now operates Smithton, Camdale, Launceston and Hobart abattoirs.3

1985

  • Red meat industry wide rationalisation Chromy sells all operations to RMI Group, in exchange for shares3

1986

  • Rationalisation falls over and shares are rendered worthless3
  • Chromy rebuilt businesses.3

1992

  • Blue Ribbon employ 540 people, annual sales of $75M3
  • Blue ribbon is floated on ASX.3

1994

  • Blue Ribbon win Austrade Agricultural products category at the Australian export awards.3

2000

  • Blue Ribbon post a loss of $3.18M18
    • esculated debts to $6M owed to Commonwealth bank and $4M to suppliers18
    • Company shares trading suspended at $0.13 down from 1993 price $1.6018
      • Peak operation annual turnover AUS$75M and18
      • processed 50% of states livestock18
      • Exports worth AUS$28M18

2001

  • July. Blue Ribbon turn down a refinancing offer from a Melbourne based syndicate18
    • Announce company is put into voluntary administration18
    • Decision chosen as alternative to receivorship and allows 3 months of trading life18
  • Nov. Ian Paterson purchases Blue Ribbon5
    • Federal court hearing – collapse of Tasmainian meat works say Paterson ignore everyones warnings, including Blue Ribbons chief financial officer that the the company was insolvent, ignored repeated advice that works needed $2M in capital injection to function5
    • Paterson misled buisness partners and Blue ribbon administrators pretending he had backing from a group of investors when he was operating entirely on his own.5
    • Former Blue ribbon CEO Ray Joy was part of investment group4
  • Dec. Blue Ribbon go into recievership and close.4

2002

  • Blue Ribbon sold to HS Greenhams.4
    • Employs 100 people7
    • Refurbish the plant to international export standards9
  • Greenhams (new owners of Smithton) develop marketing strategy and sourcing program to help secure cattle for the meat processing plant21
    • included better information to producers about types of animals suitable21
    • information feedback to producers about their animals.21
    • set up scholarships to reinforce commitment to area21
      • result – enough cattle secured for production to peak within weeks of plant opening21
  • Mar. To start production again, processing 100 cattle per day to build up to 200 head a day4
    • Processing capacity of plant 300 per day26
  • June. Smithton retrench 21 workers7

2003

  • When original company went into receivorship employees fired from full-time positions19
    • rehired latter by a labour hire firm on 12-month traineeships19
      • Hire firmis a split company from Blue Ribbon called Newemploy20
      • meant to re-employ 300 workers20
      • Only employed 95 at beginning of dispute20
    • after traineeship period then offered independent contracts for $120 a day without sick leave or holiday pay19
    • Abattoir citing needs flexibility in employment structure19
  • August. Longest lockout in Tasmania’s history enters 21st week.20
    • In dispute – 23 workers locked out, 40 have left, 10 sacked in previous week20
    • sacked workers jobs outsourced20

2004

  • Smithton set up buying centre for cattle in Devonport17
    • Producers take animals direct to site, weighed and paid on delivery.17
    • Acts as direct sale to abattoir with no agents17
    • Abattoir pays for freight to abattoir from selling centre17
    • Estimated to save producer $39 per animal in cartage.17
    • Authors Note – Normally when a producer sells at a point that is closer to property of origin the sale price of animal is reduced, therefore I question if producer in this case would actually get a saving of $39. Saving would be due to no third parties. Jo. 29.12.2013.
    • Devonport is the 6th selling centre established  by the Smithton abattoir since take over in 2002.17
  • HW Greenham and Sons Pty ltd is ranked 13th in top 25 Processors in Australia28
    • Statistics include abattoirs Smithton and Tongala abattoir (Vic)28
    • 2004 End of Dec. Throughput 52,500 ETCW (Estimated tonnes carcase weight) 2003 51,000 ETCW28
    • Kill share 2%28
    • Turnover 2004/2005 $230M (2003/2004 $200M)28
    • Employees 47028
    • Production 95% export – 5% domestic28
    • Major export markets USA, Japan, Korea, Canada, Taiwan28

2008

  • Jan. Smithton (Greenhams) dismiss 6 workers before christmas after losing a key Asian customer6
    • Unfair dismissal case lodged with Australian Industrial relations commission (AIRC)6
      • AIRC found wages and other legal entitlements were paid but had no jurisdiction to determine if dismissal unfair or harsh.6
  • Jul. Signs a exclusive deal with large Korean retail group – Lotte Mart.8
    • Smithton facilities need expansion in boning room, if not undertaken run the risk of losing export opportunities8
  • Oct. Propose to install a coal briquette-fired boiler to replace the existing boiler that is currently fired by tallow and fuel oil.9
    • Rendering process converts by-products into value added products – tallow, meatmeal & bloodmeal9
    • Rendering uses large volumes of steam to cook the materials.9
      • Edible – frying fats, shortening, oils, bakery products, confectionary and industrial margarine9
      • Inedible – soap, cosmetics, lubricants, leather dressings, candles and tallow for tanning leather.9
    • Refurbished 10MW briquett-fired boiler – consume 1.2 t coal /hr at full production9
      • working on 5 day week basis, 10 hours a day – use 1,800 t a year, coal soarced from Victoria.9
      • Ash production 3,600kg pa9
  • Smithton express interest in upgrading port facilities at Stanley to allow King Island cattle imports25

2011

  • Jul. Government – Federal and state supply $1.1M, North-West and Northern Tasmania Innovation and Investment (NWNTIIF)24
    • NWNTIIF created to assist manufacturing businesses, a number of which have closed in area due to GFC24
    • Greenhams contribute $3.3M to upgrade facilities10. –
      • build and fit out new enlarged boning room, freezing area and slaughter floor10
      • upgrade plants rendering facilities22
      • development of new value adding processing facility22
      • increase capacity from 320 head a day to 380, potential up to 45010
      • created 20 jobs with a further 7 likely10
        • other articles say 2422 jobs, and 1723 jobs.
        • upgrade created 17 jobs to date and will provide another 7 by December24
      • Deminished waiting time for producers in summer when larger number of cattle available10
      • Expansion 4 years in negotiations10
      • improvement in technologies increases efficencies22
  • August – Smithton again consider assisting with financial support to upgrade Stanley wharf – deep water24
    • Stanley is deepest port in Tasmania25
    • Would allow King Island cattle access, King Island abattoir (Tas) closed in 201224
    • Other ports are Devonport24 and Burnie26
  • December – Smithton and Tasport upgrade port facilities at Stanley to reintroduce shipping to the area25


2013

  • Jan. MSA grading of meat cuts (had been implemented for a number of years)27
    • Smithton work closely with producers providing feedback on haveing cattle eligible for meat brands.27
    • certain cuts suite certain markets.27

MSA grading _edited-1Source – Peter Greenham Managing Director of Greeham Tasmania. 31.12.2013.
Cattle in MSA program are assessed for eating quality and marketed under particular brands.

  • Apr. American buyers looking to expand purchases of beef from $80,000 per week to $800,00011
    • Grass fed beef.11
    • Tasmania is the only Australian state to ban the use of HGP, therefore all stock are guaranteed 100% HGP free12
    • lot more market potential to be realised yet11
  • July. Cattle unloaded at Stanley port, utilising the port for the first time in 20 years.26
    • Use of Stanley port takes 5 hours off sea trip compared to Burnie and improved animal welfare26
    • Expect about 240 head each sailing26
    • 12,000 – 13,000 head from King Island each year26
      • similar to amount sourced from Island for last 5 years.26

    source animals _edited-1Source – Peter Greenham, Managing Director Greenham Tasmania.

Smithton abattoir sourcing of cattle for processing. They process approximately 500 animals per day which is about 112,000 cattle per year, currently employing 200 Full time staff plus casuals.26

  • Oct. Workers strike for higher wages.13
    • 160 beef processing workers set up picket line – 25.10.2013 with ongoing ban on overtime13
    • 115 of 160 workers belong to AMIEU14
    • previous work agreement had been made in 201014
    • Workers want 4% pay rise – Greenhams offered 2.5% over 4 years & cut of $200 a week to new employees13
    • Negotiations have been going for 6 months.13
    • AMIEU figures say production has increased 25% of number of stock being processed.13
    • Union requested figures to substantiate processing from Greenham, Greendhams declined to supply figures.14
    • Smithton processes 40 to 44 cattle per man per day, elsewhere in Australia averages between 20-2414
    • Longford abattoir (Tasmania – owned by JBS) get over tally for 24 head a man, effectively getting paid time and a half for anything over 24 head.14
  • Nov. Company re-negotiated offer15
    • Raising the pay increase but not wage structure.15
    • Greenham’s showed AMIEU union rep Troy Baker figures to suggest business would not be viable in long term unless new employees paid less “..sat back and looked at it with a percentage rises on top, over time it would have made the company hard to be viable in another 4 years time” Trot Baker – AMIEU15
    • with original offer 2.5% across the board, also accepted 2.5% increase in pay with a $750 sign on bonus for the first 2 years, which will increase to 3% increase in payfor last 2 years of an agreement15

Sources

  1. ‘Support for KI meatworks’ The Mercury. 18.06.13
  2. Public Opinion article. Advocate. 24.09.1941
  3. ‘Josef Chromy : an expert vintage’ www.dynamicexport.com.au. 30.07.2009
  4. ‘Australia: Smithton abattoir to reopen tomorrow’ Just foods. 04.03.2002
  5. ‘Blue Ribbon owner criticised over abattoir collapse’ ABC rural. 22.03.2002
  6. ‘Meatworkers dispute taken to federal IR commission’ ABC news. 07.01.08
  7. Company profile. www.greenham.com.au Accessed 13.11.2013
  8. ‘Delay in works at Tongala abattoir’ www.greenham.com.au 01.07.2008
  9. ‘Smithton abattoir coal fired boiler – development proposal and environmental management plan’ Ecowise. Oct 2008
  10. ‘A meaty boost to efficency at Smithton abattoir’ The Advocate 19.07.11
  11. ‘Tassie beef industry industry impresses US buyers’ The Advocate 12.04.2013
  12. ‘Our plants – Longford’ www.jbsswift.com Accessed 13.11.13
  13. ‘Meat workers to strike for higher wages’ ABC news 23.10.2013
  14. ‘Industrial action hits Greenham’ The Advocate 25.10.2013
  15. ‘Industrial action ended at Tasmanian meatworks’ ABC rural. 12.11.2013
  16. ‘Devonport City abattoir doing well’ ABC rural 26.06.2002
  17. ‘Liveweight cattle buying centre opens in Devonport’ www.greenham.com.au
  18. ‘Australia: Blue Ribbon meats to go into voluntary administration’ www.just-food.com 19.07.2001
  19. ‘Welcome to the revolution’ AMIEU 11.06.2003
  20. ‘Tasmania’s longest lock out enters 21st week’ Green left. 20.08.2003
  21. www.lib.uts.edu.au
  22. ’24 new jobs as Tasmania meat processor expands’ Manufacturers monthly 19.07.11
  23. ‘North west coast prospects beefed up by expansion’ Bavid O’Byrne MP. 19.07.2011
  24. ‘Stanley wharf left to rot’ The Examiner. 20.08.2011
  25. www.shipspotting.com – dated 30.12.11.
  26. ‘Port of Stanley ready to receive cattle ships’ The Advocate 04.07.2013
  27. ‘Red Meat Updates’ Tasmania. MLA 20.06.2013
  28. Feedback’s top 25 processors for 2004 MLA. oct 2005

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