Tag Archives: Beenleigh abattoir


Large processing facility operated by Teys with Cargill. Recently had a number of wage disputes. Has recently invesed heavily in new technology, currently operating 2 shifts processing 1,300 cattle per day

Current Operation

  • Currently in operation as at 2015.


                   Australia. Beenleigh

Map Beenleigh 001


Historical and current meatworks, canneries and abattoirs located in Australia can be viewed at;

Australian abattoirs inactive map



  • Export
  • Nominal capacity 200,000hd as per 50 weeks(as at 1999)1
  • 800 staff2

History of the Beenleigh meat processing facility              


  • Partnership between Teys and Meat Livestock Australia (MLA) develop the semi automated ‘Beef Pullers’ – Collaborative Innovation Strategies (CIS) program20
    • five units now installed by Teys and other processors20
    • technology is designed to overcome some physical and OH & S challenges of the boning line20
      • MLA don’t fund but provide support to assist to access commonwealth research grants 50:50 basis20
  • Beef Pullers – assist in removal of bones and knuckle – recognised as two most physically demanding tasks20
    • Cost/benefit shown increased profit margin $3.50 – $4.65 per carcase20
    • Pay back period 5 months or less.20
  • Beenleigh currently employs 800 workers.37
    • Up to 50% of skilled staff mostly from Brazil and Vietnam.37
    • Most workers are union members.37
    • With a union representative in every department.37
    • Joint consultative committee.37
    • An EBA is currently in place.37
      • skilled staff receive payments above the award.37
      • slicers and boners recieve tally (piecework) payments.37


  • July. CEO – Brad Teys “..it’s been about 30 years since he had seen the supply of cattle so tight”9
  • producers not selling cattle due to poor prices and company forced to reduce kill days at Beenleigh to 3 days a week, Biloela 1 day, Rocky 3 days and Naracoorte was shut down temporarily9


  • March. Petition started to close abattoir due to dust and health risks from cattle yards11
  • June. Rockhampton – Lakes Creek abattoir Labour hire employees (mainly humanitarian entrants) are renumerated under a WorkChoices agreement that pays a flat rate of pay26
    • without penalties for overtime or shift allowance26
    • Previously the workers had been paid at enterprise agreement rates26
    • AMIEU campaigned enterprise agreement be reinstated26
      • AMIEU claim Teys no longer allowed access to facilities due to this incident26
  • August. Carbon tax said to impact in costs of $2M- unless takes drastic action to reduce its emissions – a plan that would involve a temporary shut down2
  • Key competitors don’t face carbon tax3


  • February. Clean technology allocations – $2.83M, project $6M. Install 34ML covered anaerobic lagoon and basin to capture biogas for use on site. Reduce emissions by 85% saving $1.3M energy costs and $380,000 carbon price per year4
  • March. AMIEU lodge an application for rights of entry order to the plant26
    • Teys provided a room to which employees could see their representative if they wished26
      • AMIEU claim room was too small, only able to hold 50 people, with sometimes 130 union members in attendance26
      • EBA used the room when AMIEU made a protected action ballot to be conducted26
      • AMIEU claim then due to the number of people Teys were unable to supply a room suitable26
        • Oztrail outdoor gazebo with a table and 2 chairs. “It was located immediately adjacent to a truck marshalling area, with the attendant flies, stock manure and noise”26
        • AMIEU made another application26
          • allowed to use the lunchroom26
  • May. Workers Dispute.

Teys Australia CEO Brad Teys

A number of companies that specialise in higher quality grain fed beef have been forced to close, merge or restructure over the past decade due to uncompetitive workplace arrangements”2

We are dealing with a union stuck in the 70’s, that still believes in unfettered union power2

  • 24th May – 4 hour stoppage. AMIEU strike.5
  • 24 hour strike by AMIEU for 31st May – 2nd in a week5
  • Teys saying what AMIEU want
    • 50% leave loading5
    • penalty rates within ordinary hours5
    • forced payment for idle time5
    • increased Workers compensation benefits above that prescribed by legislation5
  • Teys say – Many of staff are not union members, Only 28% of workforce voted in favour of strike5
  • AMIEU say – 80% are members, 75% supported action of stopwork6
  • What union say is happening at plant
    • Beenleigh operations made $38M in after tax profits, 9 years to 10/11, during same period paid $33M in dividends6
    • Teys want to cut wages by 20%, increase workload by 30%. Large part of workforce have lifted productivity by 18% since 1998, yet real wages declined by 11%6
  • Tey’s are in process of negotiating new workplace agreement2
  • Wages $40M each year2
  • June. Processing in Australia costs $300 a beast, USA $150 Brazil $1117
  • Boner in Australia earns $30/hr, in USA $12/hr10
  • 2012/2013 study – International Labour Organisation rates countries per highest hourly wage in manufacturing10.
    1. Denmark
    2. Switzerland
    3. Australia
    • 11th USA
    • 17th New Zealand
    • 28th Brazil.
  • Wage structures require more flexibility for seasonal harvesting, peak times in Agriculture which change employment demands and short term staff requirements10
  • AMIEU spokesperson Matt Journeaux. said members oppose to cuts up to 18.3% of current earnings for 30.5% more work. For a slicer meant a loss of $8448/yr12
  • Staff tell Teys CEO “they have had a gutful” of continued industrial action – Brad Teys – Teys CEO17
  • Negotiations continue17

The only way we will reach agreement is for the AMIEU to negotiate with an enterprise and productivity focus. They still don’t understand the need for change” – Brad Teys – Teys CEO17

  • Teys Australia currently operate 6 plants in 3 states with 5,000 employees10
  • July. AMIEU and employee representatives refused to allow a new wages and bonus offer be put to secret ballot to members13
    • Staff wanted performance bonuses removed, Teys did and replaced with 3% wage increase13
    • Cash bonus make up lost time during dispute13
  • Negotiations on Enterprise bargaining agreement ended13
  • Beenleigh plant operated on a 1% return on asset base for past 4 years13
  • Teys considered closing the plant after eight months of negotiations28
    • following 4 years of low returns28
  • 300 signatures of staff calling for a ballot, less than 50% voted for industrial action AMIEU rejected secret ballot forcing company (Teys) to terminate negotiations and explore options which included closure of plant14
  • Teys put forward 5 proposals, all rejected by AMIEU and committee14
  • Plant employs 800 staff, responsible for 4000 flow on local jobs and $250M into local economy14
  • Oct. Fair Work Commission approve the Enterprise bargaining agreement passed in employee secret ballot, to commence October 4.Follow 10 month industrial dispute with AMIEU
    • Victory of common sense and a final rejection of obstructionist union tactics” Tom Maguire (Teys’)15
    • Its a real stunner that Australia’s 2nd largest meat processing company with net equity of over $200M and $2.19B in revenue wants to pay people below award rates and conditions” AMIEU15
  • Teys’ offer unprecedented, a profit- sharing incentive for staff in EBA, is unique in meat processing and manufacture industry, 5-7% on top of normal earnings if reaches set profit targets.16
    • “company and its workforce has to work together to lift productivity in what is a highly competitive global meat processing environment”, “Manufacturing must reform to remain competitive”16 Tom Maquire (Teys’)
    • “From the outset, only a minority of workers wanted to take industrial action. Then a majority voted to approve the new EBA. Yet the union persisted to drag this out only to achieve was was agreed in the first place” Tom Maguire (Teys)18
    • AMIEU, QLD Industrial Officer Lee Norris – serious doubts Teys would deliver on its commitments16
  • During Federal election in 2013 period – Beenleigh EBA came under national spotlight when opposition leader – Tony Abbott questioned by the Fair work commission would not endorse a workplace agreeement supported by most of the staff31


  • March.Currently processing 1,300 prime cattle per day19
    • Operating two shifts, one in afternoon and one in day.19
  • Fair Work Commission (FWC) throw out the EBA following an appeal by AMIEU30
    • EBA will now need to go back to FWC for approval30
    • 500 employees will immediately have weekly pays cut $25-3030
    • majority of employees on site will actually owe Teys up to $900 each30
  • Teys Australia – a Cargill Joint Venture have plants in QLD, NSW & SA19
  • Fair work commission throw out Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) following appeal by AMIEU21
    • Conditions employed under since October 201321
    • Employees voted in favor of EBA April 201321
    • If EBA dismantled some 500 employees could have weekly pay packet reduced by $25-$3021
      • Majority of employees would find they owe company as much as $900 each21
    • AMIEU claim voting was “ballott rigged” Brian Crawford, AMIEU branch secretary22
      • allowing trainee supervisors to vote.22
    • Teys deny rigging23
      • vote administered by Australian electoral commission not by Teys23
      • Trainee supervisors been included in last 6 EBA’s since 201223
      • some trainee supervisors are union members23
      • AMIEU have long been aware of inclusion of trainee supervisors23
    • Types of reforms acheived in 2013 EBA vital for the survival of the meat processing company23

    “We must continue to manage rising manufacturing costs or processing will go the way of the car industry and other manufacturers” Tom Macquire. Teys corporate affairs manager.23

  • Workplace relations inquiry submission by Teys, John Salter – General manager of workplace relations26
    • Teys Australia is Australia’s second largest beef processor & exporter26
      • annual turnover $3B26
      • Operating in QLD, Vic, NSW & SA26
        • 9 locations26
    • Employs close to 4,500 people26
      • often the largest employer in various regional centres26
      • Annual payroll in excess of $350M26
      • People costs represent 62% of operating expenses26
    • Teys is party to 21 FWC approved Enterprise agreements26
    • Beenleigh site agreement was reached with employees in 201326
      • approval has been mired by litigious complexity which the Fair Work Act of 2009 has exacerbated, rather than neutralised26
      • Agreement subject to interlocutory stay of FWC full bench order26
      • First EBA approval September 201326
        • FWC Deputy President at the time. Ingrid Asbury.31
      • First FWC full bench appeal – December 201326
      • Second EBA approval – April 201426
        • FWC Deputy President at the time. Ingrid Asbury31
      • Second FWC full bench appeal – September 201426
      • First Federal court hearing June 201526
      • Second Federal court hearing scheduled for May 201526
    • Beenleigh current operations two shift basis Monday – Friday26
      • some employees on site 24/726
      • Employee figures fluctuate but some 24 periods 850 employees to meet production schedules26
    • 2010 EBA had significant inflexibilities threatening the viability of the plant26
      • operational and cost base challenges,26
        • which other competitors (within Teys incl) don’t face26
          • cost of environmental compliance due where plant is located in a heavily populated area26
    • 2013 EBA allowed increased productivity26
    • If forced to go back to 2010 EBA some job losses may occur as production costs are reassessed26
    • Changes considered are:26
      • lowering throughput of cattle to 1,200 head a day26
      • Changing boning & load out departments to 5 day 8 hour roster26 (40 hours)
        • currently working on a 4 day by 9.5 hour roster26 (38 hours)
        • 5×8 roster could result in 20% redundancies26
          • 40 permanent staff in load out and boning rooms26
          • 3-4 in the cleaning26
          • others in salary staff, management and supervisory areas26
      • 2010 EBA doesn’t accomodate taking of annual leave but is featured in the 2013 EBA26
        • if annual close down resumes under 2010 EBA reduction in 5% staff to cover for annual leave if had been taken in 2013 EBA26
        • these staff would now be surplus to requirements under 2010 EBA26
      • Teys invested $20M in the 2014/2015 year26.
        • this increased job creation26
      • Payroll system CHRIS in a retro perspective to accomodate reversion to payment of skilled workers would cost $500,000 to implement26
  • July. Teys currently employ 4,500 people in QLD, NSW and SA.24
  • Workers at the Beenleigh plant had voted to approve a work place agreement in 2013 but AMIEU had obstructed the deal and mounted continuous appeals.24

“..the business environment in Australia, especially industrial relations, was not conducive to manufacturing, and the sector could not compete internationally” Tom Maquire24

  • Teys say reform of the labour arrangements, greater market access and a reduction in costs and charges on companies were key ares that needed to be pursued by the government.24

“We must remove the ability by third parties – namely unions – to interfere with the relationships companies have with employees, allowing them to hold up and counter legitimate agreements” Tom Maquire24

  • Federal Government must tackle industrial relations reform or risk the closure of more manufacturing industries33
  • New EBA – Teys Australia will include productivity-based profit sharing34
    • as well as annual wage increases34
    • Is an industry first inititive
    • Bonus cheque $2000 – $600034
    • AMIEU oppose the the bonus34
  • September. Profit sharing bonus’s were paid this week25
    • represents pay-out of about $1.2M25
    • Paid the bonus’s inspite of union opposition and will not be asking workers for a refund25


  • February. Federal Court ruled that controversial enterprise agreement approved by workers in 2013 was invalid27
  • 35 jobs created under the new EBA35
    • jobs are now directly threatened35
  • An independent economic report estimated the Beenleigh plant flow effects;35
    • contributes more than $360M in GDP to Brisbane region35
    • underpins more than 1800 full time equivalent jobs35
  • Teys Australia Beenleigh Ltd v’s AMIEU 2015
    • News article cites 600 workers to affected27
    • AMIEU claim 300 workers will have ‘fatter’ pay packets27
      • argued a ballot to pass the EBA included people who were ineligible to vote27
    • Federal court rule that company must return to 2010 agreement27
      • Higher skilled workers are paid more27
        • boners, slicers & slaughtermen27
          • payment is based on weight of cattle processed27
        • lower skilled workers would be worse off27
          • lower skilled will have a lighter workload27
      • 2013 agreement was to pay on hourly rate irrespective of how many animals processed27
      • AMIEU claimed Teys told workers they wanted a 20% increase in productivity without increasing pay27
        • Teys deny claim27
          • Tom Maquire – said the company can’t compete with overseas rivals unless it cuts labour costs and increases productivity27
  • Unions would now meet with Teys to negotiate new agreements.27
  • Decision in regards to the future of the Beenleigh plant was approaching31
    • Cattle herds were falling31
    • Tougher international competition from US and Brazil expected31
      • Australian Cost of Production (COP) $300 a head31
      • US & Brazil COP $16531
  • August. EBA dispute has been ongoing since 201332
    • Federal Court ruled that Fair work commission had made a wrong decision to back the union, it was entitled to make wrong decisions32
    • Means the 2014 EBA is now void32
      • 500 workers wouldn’t receive bonus of $4,500.32
      • Similar bonus’s in 2015 would also be lost32
      • Scheduled wage increases for the next 2 years are gone32
    • Now operation will be under the 2010 EBA where32;
      • current hourly rate will decrease32
      • every worker will be worse off by 12%32
    • Teys were working on a new plan to secure rises and bonus’s32


  1. Competition & Exit in Meat Processing. Agribusiness review Vol 7 1999
  2. ‘Gillard great carbon tax backdown – Off the Hook’ QLD Country Life 02.08.12
  3. ‘Processors ‘beef’ with carbon tax’ Nth QLD Register 06.9.12
  4. ‘Teys, T & R latest round of carbon abatement grants’ Beef Central 18.02.13
  5. ‘Teys wants union to ‘get real’ and negotiate to protect 800 jobs’ Beef Central 31.05.13
  6. ‘On the brink: Teys warns “reform, or more jobs will be lost’ Beef Central 31.05.13
  7. ‘Teys hold talks with AMIEU, as workers call for close to dispute’ Beef Central 12.06.13
  8. ‘Manufacturing on the brink’ Teys Media Release 29.05.13.
  9. ‘Cattle supply chokes’ NT Country hour. 14.07.11
  10. ‘Food processing labours under high wages’ ABC rural 07.06.13
  11. ‘Shut down Teys Beenleigh’ Petition. http://www.activism.com
  12. ‘Strike action taken by workers at Teys Bros abattoir in Beenleigh over wages’ Courier mail. 04.06.13
  13. ‘Teys: 800 jobs at risk as union rejects wages offer’ Beef Central 12.07.13
  14. ‘Teys’ Beenleigh workers petition directly for secret Ballot’ Beef Central. 22.07.13
  15. ‘Warning to Government and unions to enter “New age of Industrial relations” 09.10.13
  16. ‘Beenleigh profit sharing incentives blazes trail for meat industry EBA’s’ Beef Central 09.10.13
  17. ‘Teys: Workers want end to ongoing industrial dispute’ QLD Country life 13.06.2013
  18. ‘End to Teys dispute in sight’ Nth QLD Register 03.10.2013
  19. Job advertisement for 2 workers. Teys. 03.03.2014
  20. ‘Research partnership delivers new commercial technologies’ Feedback. March 2010
  21. 800 Beenleigh workers face pay cuts under AMIEU action. Beef Central. 07.03.2014
  22. ‘Union tells Teys to put-up or shut-up’. Beef Central 11.03.2014
  23. ‘Teys rejects union claim of EBA vote-rigging’. Beef Central 12.03.2014
  24. ‘Teys:Govt must take action’ Nth QLD Register 10.07.2014
  25. ‘Industrial relations: Beenleigh staff paid ‘ground breaking’ profit share cash bonuses’ Beef Central 04.09.2014
  26. AMIEU ‘The National Meatworker’ August 2013
  27. ‘Ruling finds controversial enterprise agreement approved by workers in 2013 was invalid’ The Courier-mail 12.02.2015
  28. ‘Teys Clashes with union over enterprise dispute’ The Bulletin 06.08.2015
  29. sub0095-workplace-relations
  30. ‘Fight over Teys EBA continues’ www.Farmonline.com.au. 07.03.2014
  31. ‘Teys looks at closing abattoirs’ www.farmonline.com.au 17.02.2015
  32. ‘IR system fails 800 Beenleigh meatworkers, says Teys’ Beefcentral 03.08.2015
  33. ‘Teys calls for greater IR reform’ www.farmonline.com.au 08.07.2014
  34. ‘Teys says AMIEU opposes its employee bonus plan’ Beef Central 25.07.2014
  35. ‘IR system “needs urgent overhaul” as court……” Beef Central 13.02.2015
  36. ‘Workers safe at Rockhampton and Biloela’s abattoirs’ The Morning Bulletin 14.07.2013
  37. Work-skills-and-training-2301-1