Macfarlane snubs Electrolux workers

MEMBER for Calare John Cobb says he is in discussion with Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane to find a solution to the jobs crisis Calare is facing and expects a visit from his colleague or staff member in the next two months.

But the minister has again distanced himself from the plight of the 544 Electrolux workers to be made redundant from 2015, with a spokesman from his office saying the management of the plant’s “changes” are a matter for the company not the Commonwealth Government.

Last month Mr Macfarlane came under fire from unions for suggesting the workers go to government agencies such as Centrelink.

But the spokesman reiterated the advice, saying like all retrenched workers the Electrolux staff can access employment services through Job Services Australia.

Mr Macfarlane visited Orange and Bathurst in October just weeks before the cities’ manufacturers announced job losses, but the spokesman would not say if another visit was planned.

He also would not say if Mr Macfarlane, the Industry Department and/or the federal cabinet were considering financial assistance for redundant workers in Orange and the central west.

OUR SAY: PLEASE EXPLAIN DOUBLE STANDARD

Unions claim Orange and the central west is missing out on financial assistance, like the $100 million package for Adelaide and Melbourne to recover from the Holden closure, because the area is in safe political seats for the Coalition.

Mr Cobb was unavailable for interview, but in a statement defended the reponse to the jobs’ crisis.

“As our federal member I know that only practical hard bitten approaches work, not calls for funding that are simply just that,” he said.

“Be assured I am as dedicated to dealing with our regional issues as anyone.”

Mr Cobb again described the situation Electrolux employees faced as part of a “regional jobs situation” for Calare and said he was working closely with his local and state colleagues to find long-term solutions to assist the electorate transition from the significant job losses.

“My objective is to create and encourage employment and industry opportunity for the entire region and as time progresses I will provide further details on this strategy,” he said.

“... There is no quick fix and no easy solution.

“This is about the formulation of a medium to long-term strategy promoting and creating new industry or more probably the expansion of existing businesses.”

Mr Cobb said retraining and further education was “all very well”, but job opportunities must be apparent for it to be worthwhile. 

“Fortunately for Orange, in relation to Electrolux there is time, but in Bathurst and Lithgow the redundancies are much more immediate,” he said.

In the central west, Orange will be dealt the biggest blow when Electrolux’s wind-down from 2015 costs 544 jobs.

But in Bathurst, Simplot has already begun shedding 110 jobs as the food processing plant scales back its operations.

Downer EDI too has started cutting back staff before it closes leaving 100 workers without jobs.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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