Meatpackers at the Lakes Creek abattoir in Rockhampton, owned by the Consolidated Meat Group (CMG) this weekend accepted an offer from the CMG to return to work under a federal safety net award, that will leave workers up to A$320 (US$172) a week worse off.

The return to work follows an on-off strike that has lasted more than four months. Robert Schwarten, the Rockhampton member of the Queensland government said pay cuts of this size would offset any economic benefits from the reopening of the meatworks.

"The disposable income of the people concerned, the 1,300 meatworkers, has been severely affected, so the businesses locally are going to suffer as a result of that, we all suffer as a result of that," he said.

"I just hope that CMG sees that for what it is, an attack on the community and enters into some true spirited EBA [enterprise bargaining agreement] processes so that they get a decent wage out of it and the community gets a decent return."

Union workers will continue to fight for improved terms and conditions.