Time to get rid of Fonterra in Australia
THE Mayor of Colac Otway Shire, Cr Stephen Hart (pictured) has labelled the closure of Fonterra's Cororooke plant, a "tragedy" for the region.
As news began to digest in the tiny township of Cororooke and district, the Shire pledged to do everything it could to help the transition for the 130 workers that could lose their jobs in the restructure of Fonterra's Western District dairy production.
The Cororooke factory was closed for two days this week to give workers a chance to recover from the news.
Cr Hart said the Shire aimed to play a vital role in assistance for re-employment for the workers including facilitating retraining and possibly redeployment to other factories which were expanding in the region.
"I'm quite concerned that this will have a significant affect on the small community of Cororooke and surrounds," he said.
Colac Otway Shire Council has already met with Fonterra representatives and will work with the State Government to look at support structures for future redundancies.
Acting Chief Executive Officer Jack Green said Council was immensely disappointed about the closure.
"We will work with employment agencies and other businesses which may be in a position to help Fonterra employees transition to jobs at other companies if that is required."
Mr Green said the Fonterra factory was part of the fabric of Cororooke, and had played a significant role in the south-west Victoria's dairy industry during the past century.
"This is a sad day for Colac Otway Shire, and in particular for those people who work at the plant."
Mr Green said it was important for the community to understand that Fonterra's decision was based on a planned rationalisation of its three factories in the region, and did not necessarily reflect on the overall health of the local manufacturing sector.
"All indicators suggest that businesses in Colac Otway Shire are doing well. We are confident that our local manufacturing companies will be in a strong enough position to provide job opportunities to some of the people who may lose their jobs at Fonterra, if they cannot be relocated to other Fonterra sites at Cobden or Warrnambool."
National Union of Workers Victorian president Tim Kennedy said the decision had come as a surprise in the industry.
"It's always been a really good plant, this has completely blindsided us.
"The real tragedy is that this is yet another regional community losing jobs," Mr Kennedy said.
"It comes on the back of job losses in the dairy industry that have been trickling all year - we need to find a way to turn it around."