Cootamundra’s largest employer closed its doors on Friday, leaving 150 permanent and 70 casual staff out of a job.
Cameron Hampton uprooted his life in Brisbane six months ago to fill a slicer and knife-hand position at Manildra Meat Company.
Mr Hampton said the mood on the kill floor had been sombre since the company announced last Friday 220 workers would be out of work.
“People weren't caring about work this week as much as usual, everyone was on edge not knowing where the next pay cheque is coming from or how their mortgage is getting paid,” Mr Hampton said.
“There’s plenty of families with multiple family members working at the abattoir, like a father and son or brothers; they’re doing it really tough.
“A lot of people are hoping to get a job at the abattoirs in Gundagai and Wagga, but there’s plenty with plans to get out of the Riverina entirely.”
Mr Hampton, 20, became a meat worker as soon as he left school four years ago and was proud of his career ascension.
“I don't have a lot of savings so I need a job pretty urgently,” he said.
“I am a hard-working bloke who always put in 100 per cent for the company.”
Mr Hampton has applied for work at Teys Wagga and Gundagai Meat Processors but would consider re-skilling if an opportunity arose to change industries.
Employment and counselling staff have been at meat workers’ disposal for the past week, including three Centrelink staff, the federal department of employment and state training services.
LegalAid was on site during Thursday and Friday to talk about dealing with mortgages and paying rent.
Junee Correctional Centre has agreed to employ some staff and abattoirs at Junee, Gundagai, Young and Wagga have accepted job applications.
Cootamundra MP Katrina Hodgkinson this week told NSW parliament the closure would be keenly felt by small businesses across the region.
“To lose a company or organisation as big as Manildra Meats from Cootamundra impacts not only the employees and their families but also kids in schools, transport operators and staff at other small businesses that relied on the company,” Ms Hodgkinson said.