HOME AGAIN: Workers on the production line in the temporary boning room at Swickers Kingaroy.
HOME AGAIN: Workers on the production line in the temporary boning room at Swickers Kingaroy. Katherine Morris

Swickers workers back home in new facility

MORE than 120 Swickers Bacon Factory workers are back in Kingaroy after working away in Wulkuraka since November last year.

Sunpork chief executive officer Robert van Barneveld said all workers were now back working in the temporary boning room and new chilling facilities.

Dr van Barneveld said the permanent boning room was still being built and was on track to be finished by the end of September.

"Having everybody home there are great benefits for staff morale, and having everyone back and working in Kingaroy and with their families," he said.

The production capacity has picked up now workers are back from Ipswich.

"The efficiency will be greater when the permanent facilities are complete. This will be a major step forward for us on the road to recovery," Dr van Barneveld said.

"It also improves the logistics of having to transport carcasses 150kms to do the boning.

"It's worth mentioning the tremendous support we've had from local contractors to make sure we could get the temporary boning under way in such a short timeframe.

"It's hard to believe this was bare earth less than 18 weeks ago, and now we have operational capacity on site.

"It's been a fantastic effort by everybody to have the support from the community."

Tonia Gilbert's husband Rhys works in the boning room at Swickers and has been back for a week after working away since November last year.

"He's been back for a week now so it's super exciting," she said.

"It's awesome. He was away for four or five years before it burnt down and then it burnt down and he's gone again.

"So we thought, do we get used to this or is something else going to happen?" Mrs Gilbert said.

She said the family would now be able to do many things on the weekends together.

"All sorts of things, Rhys is into sprint cars so now he's home to work on the sprint car. When he was away he just wanted to come home to us, we just wanted to spend time with each other," she said.

"So it opens all sorts of things for us, we can go away on Friday night now.

"We are so grateful to Swickers, very grateful."

On November 6 last year fire destroyed the boning room distribution centre and chilling facilities at Swickers.

120 workers were transported to work in a facility in Wulkuraka.

The kill floor was operational two days after the fire.

The boning room building was torn down in January this year and construction started on the spot soon after.

In November it was projected to be 18 months before workers could return to work in Kingaroy again.

In March this year, Swickers announced workers would be back in a temporary facility by May this year.