Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Sacked SPC staff clock off for good

A group of about 60 SPC Ardmona maintenance workers who were made redundant two days after Christmas knocked off for the last time yesterday.

JARROD WHITTAKER May 3, 2014 4:34am

One last photo: A group of about 60 sacked SPC Ardmona workers pose for a picture in front of the Shepparton factory's gates after finishing work for the last time yesterday.


Their last day on the job completes the transfer from in-house maintenance to contract labour.

The 60 or so workers who finished yesterday are the last remaining from a group of 73 made redundant in December.

A further group of about 10 also finished at the company’s Kyabram operation.

Electrical Trades Union organiser Damian King said the 73 workers were true heroes of the fight to keep SPC Ardmona in Shepparton.

‘‘A lot of people tried to make themselves heroes in the SPC situation — these guys are the real heroes,’’ Mr King said.

He said the workers could have striked indefinitely after being told of their fate, but refused.

‘‘We could have crippled the business going into the fruit season,’’ Mr King said.

‘‘But the guys said, ‘We’re the sons of fruitgrowers — we’ve lived here for years, we won’t do it’.’’

Contract labour firms who will provide maintenance services to SPC Ardmona have been directed by the company not to hire the men.

As a result, many will not have a job to go to come Monday.

The ETU and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union have accused the company of selling the workers out in its bid for a Federal Government bailout.

In December, the company was seeking $25million from the Federal Government for the modernisation of its Shepparton plant.

It was revealed the government was not happy with what it called the ‘‘over-generous’’ pay and conditions the company’s workers enjoyed.

However, an SPC Ardmona spokeswoman said the workers were made redundant in a bid to improve efficiency.

‘‘As part of SPC’s labour productivity review last year, 73 maintenance employees were made redundant because SPC found we could not make the productivity gains we needed with this group,’’ the spokeswoman said.

‘‘These employees were advised last December their roles would be replaced by external maintenance services providers in May 2014.

‘‘They have all been offered full redundancy and entitlement payouts, as well as work transitional services to support their job search efforts.’’

She said 10 workers left the company early after finding new employment.

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