Kraft decision to sack 325 will hurt other industries, warns union

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Kraft decision to sack 325 will hurt other industries, warns union

A major manufacturing union has warned that the decision taken yesterday by Kraft to cut its workforce by 325 will have large flow-on effects for other industries in Victoria.

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A major manufacturing union has warned that the decision taken yesterday by Kraft to cut its workforce by 325 will have large flow-on effects for other industries in Victoria.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) spokesman Steve Dargavel said Kraft's restructure will mean much of the company's packaging will be done overseas.

'This will have a big impact not only in the food production areas but in the food container industries that produce containers for this product,' he said.

'Both are going overseas and that's because in the Middle East they have tariffs protecting their industries that we don't, so it's attractive for industries to move offshore.

'That's because we don't have industry policy.'

Shocked and disappointed

The National Union of Workers (NUW) Victorian State Secretary Antony Thow, whose union covers many of the workers, said he was 'shocked and disappointed with the announcement'.

Thow said the news came as a huge surprise to the union and had left many of its members stunned and upset.

'To lose 325 jobs, including 150 from Port Melbourne and more than 100 from Strathmerton is a huge blow to everyone involved,' he said.

'However, if these changes maintain the long-term viability of both the Port Melbourne and Strathmerton plants it is something that while disappointing, we have no choice but to accept.

'But we will be sitting down with Kraft in the coming days and weeks to ensure those being made redundant are offered adequate access to re-training programs and counselling services.

'We will also be doing everything in our power to assist our members to find new employment.'

Redundancies protected

Thow said while it was small consolation for those losing their jobs over the next two years, he was comforted by the knowledge that the NUW and its members had been able to roll-over their collective agreements at Port Melbourne and Strathmerton in the past 12 months to ensure their redundancy rights were protected.

'We were extremely vigilant in rolling over as many collective agreements as we could before the Howard Government's WorkChoices legislation came into force in March, to ensure our members' rights and conditions were protected,' he said.

'This means that our members at Kraft at least have the security of knowing they have an excellent redundancy package which includes four weeks pay for every year of service.'

The redundancy package is capped at 124 weeks, for the equivalent of 30 years' service.

Explaining cuts

In explaining the job cuts, Kraft said that some specialty cheese manufacturing would move from its Strathmerton plant to the Middle East and South Australia, but key products such as Vegemite, peanut butter and salad dressings would stay in Victoria. A spokesman said the future of Vegemite in Victoria was now assured.

The Port Melbourne plant was targeted for job losses because it produces niche items such as pasta meals and parmesan cheese. The move is part of a two-year plan and comes on top of 151 redundancies when Kraft closed a Broadmeadows biscuit plant in January to shift production to China.

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Relocation of workplace justified redundancy entitlements

Redundancy and suitable alternative employment

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