Cyber attacks have shut down JBS abattoirs across Australia, the United States, and Canada, the Queensland meat industry union secretary has told ABC Radio Brisbane.
Phone and computer systems were down when workers arrived on Monday morning.
Australian Meat Industry Employees’ Union Queensland Secretary Matt Journeaux said thousands of members would go without pay.
“The meat in the sandwich is that this is a concerted effort against Australian business and the workers will suffer as a result of that,” Mr Journeaux said.
“There’s six sites in Queensland that will be affected … and around the nation there would be significantly more.
“In most processing facilities the workers are on daily hire arrangements and unfortunately if they don’t work, they don’t get paid.”
The company has 47 facilities across Australia, operating the largest network of production facilities and feedlots in the country.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud confirmed the government was aware of the hack and was working to get JBS meatworks nationally back online.
Possible ‘protein deficiency globally’
Mr Journeaux warned of the ramifications if the attack was not resolved soon.
“If this situation isn’t rectified within weeks it would definitely have flow on effects,” he said.
“There could be a protein deficiency globally because of this.”
Earlier this month, Argentina announced a snap 30-day ban on all beef exports with ramifications for the trade globally, including a possible shortage of lean beef.
According to Mr Journeaux, every step of processing was down.
“Cattle get entered into systems to be processed,” he said.
“When those cuts are in a box computers print tickets with barcodes for those cuts, and I think all of those systems have been affected by this.”