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Thomas Foods International’s new Murray Bridge abattoir is finished
More than five years after a fire destroyed the company’s meat works, it is looking to fill 350 jobs at its new facility at Pallamana.
Thomas Foods International’s new Murray Bridge meat works are finished.
The company is now advertising up to 350 jobs which will become available at the facility.
CEO Tony Stewart announced the milestone on Friday morning, as commissioning of the plant began.
“We are looking to build our production workforce quickly and have immediate starts available,” he said.
“We are placing a strong focus on experienced and entry-level production roles, as we aim to achieve full production capacity as soon as possible.
“Recruitment will be ongoing as production ramps up to 600 head of cattle per day.
“We are keen to hear from locals across Murray Bridge and the surrounding area to come and join our expanding team.”
The company has already hired many of the site’s senior staff, including plant manager Sam Jones, senior environmental manager Elizabeth Cronje, livestock manager Hugh Walsh, lairages supervisor Sabrina Nottage and head chef Alex Thompson.
It is now advertising for roles including:
Beef slaughter persons
A wastewater treatment plant operator
A registered nurse
Successful candidates will work at a facility Mr Stewart described as the most advanced of its kind in the world.
They will also enjoy perks uncommon in most workplaces.
Alex Thompson – previously the head chef at Mannum’s Pretoria Hotel – has been planning the menu of meals he will serve hundreds of workers for lunch each day.
He anticipated that the workforce would have diverse tastes.
“I’m planning to cook everything from delicious curries, laksas and stir fries to modern Australian cuisine,” he said.
“I’m used to cooking for a lot of people; to me it’s all about providing fresh, healthy and interesting food that people enjoy eating.”
Started at the bottom, now we’re here
The opening of the new facility will mark the end of a turbulent journey for a company that was, up until five years ago, the Murray Bridge district’s biggest employer.
The fire started in an offal bin, where a worker was doing some welding, around 7pm on January 3, 2018.
All 1400 employees evacuated safely, but the blaze quickly engulfed the abattoir’s main building.
It took 100 firefighters the better part of a week to put it out.
Within a week of the disaster, TFI managing director Darren Thomas committed to rebuilding the plant in the Murraylands – a decision he would later say had never been in doubt.
In the weeks afterwards, local businesses rallied around affected employees, there was a fundraising concert headlined by Rachael Leahcar, and school students retold the story of the fire in song and dance.
But it was still a turbulent time for workers.
About 500 who had been visiting from overseas on temporary work visas were forced to depart the country, leaving hundreds of rental properties empty across the region.
Many of those who remained either began commuting to TFI’s plant at Lobethal, which was rapidly expanded to help meet demand; found new jobs, including at the copper mine at Kanmantoo; or remained on stand down without pay.
Builders Badge recently handed the site over to TFI for commissioning and test processing runs ahead of its official opening on a date yet to be set.
While the new plant will only process beef at first, a second stage of works will eventually allow sheep processing to resume locally, too, creating hundreds more jobs.
More information: thomasfoods.com/careers.
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