Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

SPCA staff not to blame: Stone

Murray MP Sharman Stone upset with colleagues about SPCA suggestions

February 5, 2014 4:44am



While political wranglings increase, the future of fruit processor SPC Ardmona and its workforce remain in doubt.

Yesterday, Federal Member for Murray Dr Sharman Stone expressed her feelings publicly about her colleagues’ decision and comments senior government members made suggesting SPCA employees’ conditions were ‘‘well in excess of the award’’ and ‘‘astounding’’.

‘‘One of the things that really upsets me most I guess is that the Federal Government did not say we’d love to help, but we just don’t have the money right now, or can we help in some other way,’’ Dr Stone said.

‘‘What they said was we’re not going to help because it is the amazing wages and conditions that have knocked this company for six, and that is just wrong, that is not true.’’

In September last year, SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly told the Free Press the company would face a major problem if government funding for its proposed Shepparton site upgrade was not offered.

He said the company’s intention was to close the Kyabram and Mooroopna sites within two years and relocate the staff from the two sites into an upgraded Shepparton processing hub.

‘‘If businesses do not innovate, they are at great risk of being deleted,’’ Mr Kelly said.

‘‘I don’t have a great plan of what to do if we don’t get this money. It’s not something I really want to contemplate.’’

Following the Federal cabinet’s decision not to provide SPCA with $25million towards its proposed Shepparton site upgrade, that situation is one Mr Kelly is now having to contemplate.

The Kyabram site employs about 65 staff on a mixture of full-time, part-time and casual arrangements, although most of them are working at Shepparton temporarily as part of a planned operation announced last June.

Yesterday morning an SPCA spokesperson confirmed many of the company’s Kyabram workforce were working at its other Goulburn Valley sites.

‘‘As part of maximising our productivity, the majority of our Kyabram workers will support the seasonal work at our Mooroopna and Shepparton operations from late January until early March,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘During that time, some limited operations will continue at Kyabram including the production of products that have a limited shelf life.’’

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