About 100 jobs are in limbo at the HY Moe Meat abattoir, where workers have been left without an income since production stopped in December.
Workers were told by the abattoir owners on Friday there was no definitive date to reopen and were advised to apply for financial help from Centrelink.
One worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Express many people had been left unsure about whether production would restart at the abattoir on Moe-Walhalla Road.
“Everyone’s heartbroken, we’re absolutely distraught,” the worker said.
The worker said since staff had believed they would be returning to work, many did not apply for Centrelink payments. Workers were reportedly initially told production would restart at the beginning of January but the company pushed back the reopening several times, prompting the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union to step in.
The meatworkers union organised last week’s meeting between workers and the abattoir’s Chinese owners, HY Australia Holdings.
AMIEU Victorian secretary Paul Conway said HY Australia Holdings confirmed at the meeting it did not currently have the money to get the abattoir running again.
“The company says they’re still very positive about reopening but they still can’t give a date,” he said.
Mr Conway said the situation was frustrating for workers who had thought they would be returning to work.
“They have been without an income through no fault of their own since December,” he said.
“One bloke has said at the meeting ‘$20, that’s all I’ve got, I’ve got nothing else’. Some of these guys are paying car registration that they just can’t afford now.”
HY Australia Holdings is also the owner of Tabro Meat near Wonthaggi, where production is set to restart on 3 February.
The Weekly Times last week reported that the company was behind in its payments to several Victorian agencies for livestock sold to Tabro Meat.
HY Australia Holdings did not respond to The Express’ request for comment at the time of going to print.