Close to 300 employees have been stood down at JBS' Longford abattoir after the multinational company was hit by a cyber attack over the weekend, the union representing meat industry workers says.
JBS - the world's biggest meat processor - has had its operations in Australia, the United States and Canada affected by the incident. JBS Australia, which was contacted for comment, reportedly cancelled all beef and lamb kills across the country on Monday and stood down workers.
The company has more than 10,000 employees in Australia, with a network of 47 facilities across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
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And JBS' sole Tasmanian facility has not been immune to the cyber attack.
Australian Meat Industry Employees Union Tasmania branch secretary Andrew Foden said the plant, which employs more than 300 people, had been shut down as a result of the incident.
"The computer system's down, the telephone system's down," Mr Foden said. "I believe the gas to the plant has also been cut off, because I think that's controlled by their own computer systems."
"They've got a skeleton crew out there with security ... and I think there's a small maintenance crew still catching up on some work down there. About 280-290 workers remain stood down until further notice.
"[The workers] are worried because they don't even know if they're going to get paid this week because the payroll is an electronic system. JBS can't turn the computers back on yet, because they're concerned that ransomware may get in and get personal details, like superannuation account numbers and bank details."
Mr Foden said JBS was "trying their best" to temporarily utilise a "manual" payroll process.
[The workers] are worried because they don't even know if they're going to get paid this week because the payroll is an electronic system.Andrew Foden, Australian Meat Industry Employees Union Tasmania branch secretary
"As long as they can get that done, the workforce will be ... content that they'll have some money to pay bills," he said.
Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett said he had spoken to JBS Australia chief executive Brent Eastwood on Monday night and "expressed my concern on behalf of the state government and on behalf of the employees and the people of Tasmania".
"It's a very worrying matter, with a cyber attack which has impacted all across Australia and across the globe," Mr Barnett said. "So [JBS is] putting in place measures to address that as soon as possible. And they've also had some federal government support through the Australian Federal Police and the [Australian Signals Directorate]."
"I'm very concerned. This is a cyber attack ... [that has] impacted across the globe and it impacts us directly here in Tasmania - specifically the 250-plus employees and workers at Longford."
Mr Barnett said the state government was monitoring the situation on "a daily and an hourly basis".
There were no issues with meat supply in Tasmania as a result of the shut-down of operations at the Longford plant, the minister said, but the government was "monitoring this very carefully and we'll address those concerns as they arise".
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