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SPC Ardmona sets the record straight

SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly has rejected Federal Government claims its workers have over-generous conditions.

JARROD WHITTAKER February 5, 2014 4:58am

SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly.


SPC Ardmona has declared claims it provides workers with ‘‘over-generous’’ conditions not based on fact.

The Goulburn Valley fruit processing company yesterday issued a statement outlining workers’ conditions, following criticism by senior Federal Government ministers.

SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly said the company was facing several problems, but these did not include labour problems.

‘‘The serious problems that have beset SPC Ardmona have not been because of labour costs and certainly not from the allowances, a fact borne out by the Productivity Commission’s recent analysis,’’ Mr Kelly said.

‘‘The business has been severely damaged in recent times by a ‘perfect storm’ created by external economic factors.

‘‘The high Australian dollar ... has both enabled the flood of cheap imported product to be sold in Australia below the cost of production here and also decimated the company’s export markets.’’

Several ministers have attacked workplace conditions following federal Cabinet’s decision last week not to approve a $25million grant.

These include reports of workers receiving nine weeks’ annual leave and a five-day Melbourne Cup holiday.

It also includes reports workers could cash in sick leave, which the company has rejected.

SPC Ardmona’s statement said workers received 20 days of annual leave a year.

The statement said the Melbourne Cup holiday was comprised of rostered days off, which cannot be taken during the year.

Mr Kelly said from 2009 to last year the company was hit hard as the Australian dollar appreciated by more than 50 per cent.

‘‘In that period market share of private label canned fruit grew to 58 per cent today, while SPC Ardmona canned fruit share declined to 33 per cent,’’ he said.

‘‘Our export market volumes declined by 90 per cent in the past five years.’’

Since 2011, 32 per cent of positions across the company had been made redundant, Mr Kelly said.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union national secretary Paul Bastian said Mr Kelly’s comments revealed there was nothing extraordinary about conditions at SPC Ardmona.

‘‘The comments from SPC’s managing director and Liberal MP Sharman Stone show that these are ordinary people on ordinary wages and ordinary conditions,’’ Mr Bastian said.

‘‘They provide tremendous economic value to the community.

‘‘The government knows that this decision is going to have a huge impact on Shepparton and the entire food processing industry.’’

For more coverage of the fallout from the Federal Government’s decision to reject a funding request from SPC Ardmona, grab a copy of today’s News.

 

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