Tasmanian meat workers say they will forcibly prevent sheep being loaded onto a carrier ship headed for the Middle East.

Members of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union say that 300 jobs will be lost in Tasmania if the planned shipment of 30,000 sheep to Saudi Arabia goes ahead. Union secretary Grant Courtney said the Tasmanian meat processor sector had already suffered a downturn of 30% following the delayed sale of Blue Ribbon.

Tasmanian meat processors are fully equipped to kill livestock in adherence with the halal techniques required by Muslim countries, Courtney added, so there was no justification in sending live animals for slaughter overseas.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has called for an end to live animal exports from Australia.