Over the past 3 months, MINTRAC have surveyed 66 meat processing plants across Australia about the language backgrounds of workers whose first language is not English.
It was discovered across the meat industry that:
- There are over 25 different languages spoken.
- There are almost 1900 workers who come from language backgrounds other than English in more than 40 companies.
The 5 most common languages other than English that are spoken in the meat industry are:
- Portuguese (366)
- Chinese (264)
- Vietnamese (221)
- Pilipino (186)
- Malay (132)
MINTRAC identified approximately 250 workers from Sudan currently working in the industry, however as Sudan is made up of a number of different languages, it is difficult to ascertain the number of workers from each language background.
Out of the 1900 workers, MINTRAC found that 40% have very limited language skills; 39% have been identified by their trainers as having enough English to complete training, whilst only 11% are fluent in English. Almost 60% of these workers are able to interpret workplace signs, but this figure includes some workers whose companies translate signs into other languages to assist their workers. Only 19% of the workers can read and write English well enough to understand workplace documentation.
Approximately 42% are literate in their first language, though company representatives were unsure about 26% of trainees’ first language literacy.