Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says smaller meat processing facilities will be exempt from new rules forcing manufacturing facilities to reduce their workforces.
As businesses across Melbourne contend with the consequences of stage four lockdown restrictions today, Andrews has moved to clarify several aspects of the new rules, and there’s good news for SMEs.
Abattoirs processing red meat will not be required to reduce their workforces by one-third if they have fewer than 25 employees, while seafood facilities with fewer than 40 staff will also be exempt.
Andrews said trying to reduce the workforces of small businesses in these industries could create unforeseen problems.
“We think it gets to a critical mass point if you try to reduce workforces in such small centres,” he told reporters.
The Victorian government has been under pressure to clarify sweeping measures forcing much of Victoria’s manufacturing and food processing industries to either shut down or reduce their operations from today.
There have been 17 roundtables over the last three days with industry groups as heads come together to try and nut out a plan to make the new rules work.
Amid business complaints that they’re being put on hold for hours trying to get advice from Business Victoria about the shutdown, Andrews has pleaded with business owners for patience.
“I know it’s very complex and challenging. It is unique. We’ve never done it before. It cannot be made perfect,” he said.
“There have been literally… we’ve lost count. Hundreds and hundreds and, maybe thousands, in fact, of phone calls and Zoom meetings with employers large and small, from every industry, and from every part of the state.
“Everyone is doing their very best. This will settle, of course, whenever the deadline comes in, the immediate aftermath of that, there will be some confusion, there will be some challenges. I fully understand that,” Andrews continued.