WA processors must find new labour sources after they rejected the latest agreement negotiated by State and Federal Governments.
Harvey Beef chief executive officer Scott Henderson said the labour shortage was the biggest challenge the industry now faced.
³It has been well publicised that we are operating under capacity but we just cannot find the staff that will enable us to get to that capacity,² Mr Henderson said.
Harvey Beef was looking at various options to attract staff, and recent recruiting trips to New Zealand had proved successful.
³We have recruited 25 New Zealanders so far, but we are looking for 100 new employees so we still have to find 75 workers from somewhere,² Mr Henderson said.
Recruiting local workers was the preferred option but they were just not available, he said.
³We would be more than happy to employ locals and train them up, but we just cannot find them,² Mr Henderson said.
Harvey Beef had not yet decided if it would operate under the latest labour agreement.
³We have made applications under the 457 visa, but I am not sure about this latest agreement,² Mr Henderson said.
³Some of the language used within it is quite confusing.²
WA Small Business Minister Margaret Quirk said she was dismayed that meat processors had rejected the labour agreement.
³Often the criticism is that State and Federal Governments cannot reach agreement on issues of national importance,² Ms Quirk said.
³So when we do it¹s disappointing that those the agreement seeks to assist do not have the broader interests of Australia at heart.
³I am surprised by the meat industry Council¹s response, as they had clearly indicated broad support throughout the negotiation process.
³Knowing how important this was to the sector, I travelled to Canberra last month to meet Federal Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews to ensure he had a thorough understanding of the specific needs of the industry in WA.²
Ms Quirk said despite the AMIC position, she encouraged individual enterprises to contact the Immigration Department to discuss accessing the agreement.
Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said the rejection was a surprise.
³The Australian and WA Governments reached an agreement to provide WA meat companies with a temporary solution to address the shortage of skilled meat workers while making sure that the jobs of Australian workers are protected,² Mr Andrews said.