COMING HOME: Amy Mannion's partner has been working for Swickers in Ipswich but is expected to move back home at the end of April.
COMING HOME: Amy Mannion's partner has been working for Swickers in Ipswich but is expected to move back home at the end of April. Katherine Morris

Swickers families to be reunited sooner than thought

SWICKERS workers could be back with their families sooner than first thought after five months working away in Ipswich. 

Amy Mannion and partner Victor Peillon were on holiday in Canada in November when they found out the boning room at the Kingaroy pig abattoir had burned down.

A few weeks later, Miss Mannion learned she was pregnant.

The baby is due in June and she was concerned Mr Peillon would be working away, leaving her on her own with a newborn.

"So we found out in Canada that he may not have a job when he gets back," Miss Mannion said.

Mr Peillon and the other boning room workers were moved to Ipswich for work, returning on weekends.

The couple lives in Nanango and Miss Mannion thought she might join Mr Peillon in Ipswich for 18 months.

Work continues at Swickers Bacon Factory on Friday, January 13.
Work continues at Swickers Bacon Factory on Friday, January 13. Will Hunter

Sunpork CEO Robert van Barneveld said the company's plan was to reinstate a temporary facility by May this year. 

"Failing floods, fire and pestilence, our plan is to reinstate temporary boning operations at Kingaroy between April 28 and May 15," Dr van Barneveld said.   

Finding out he was coming home sooner than expected came as a relief for the expectant mother.

"The baby would have been almost a year old by the time he did move back, so that sucked and I didn't want to do it alone," she said.

"My friend said she was going to move here to help me out, so that stopped me from moving."

Tonia Gilbert's husband Rhys had worked away from home for five years when he took a job at Swickers.

Two months in, the boning room caught fire and Mr Gilbert had to work away again.

Mrs Gilbert said when her husband was working away, the money was great, but she missed him too much.

"Sunday morning we woke up like everyone else going 'holy crap, do we have a job on Monday?'," she said.

"Swickers has been amazing. Most companies would go 'sorry, we'll open in 18 months'.

"We are excited about it coming to a close."

Mr Gilbert was told he would be back working in Kingaroy at the end of April.

"We're all pretty excited because 18 months was a long time when it first happened and he did get depressed about having to go away again," Mrs Gilbert said.

"The majority of these families would not know what it's like to work away from home in a drive-in, drive-out situation - it's very hard."

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