ELECTROLUX employees in Orange must take annual leave, peak leave or long-service leave and can’t return to work until Monday after an asbestos-ridden roof collapsed and caused the factory to shutdown.
The roof collapsed at about 1am yesterday and workers were told of the damage as they fronted for the morning shift.
The roof fell on top of an electrical substation which cut power to most of the factory but also set off the fire sprinklers, causing flooding to the factory floor.
General manger Mark O’Kane said asbestos specialists were brought in and informed him yesterday it would take at least three days to safely clear the rubble.
“Safety is paramount,” he said.
Parts of the factory will be operational today and employees who work in those areas have been notified.
The rest are encouraged to take leave until Monday.
Friday will be a rostered day off, in lieu of a rostered day off later in the month.
Australian Workers Union western region organiser Allan Hayne said there was a provision in the workplace agreement that covered this type of scenario.
“The question needs to be raised in regards to maintenance ... if it was or was not done properly, well, that is arguable,” he said.
"We’re talking with our insurance company but the worst part is you can never put a true cost on it."
“We’ll be looking at that and make a decision whether we’ll challenge the decision to make people take annual leave.”
Mr O’Kane said the cause of the roof collapse was not yet known, nor was the damage bill.
“We’re talking with our insurance company but the worst part is you can never put a true cost on it,” he said.
Mr O’Kane said the incident could not have come at a worse time.
“This is our peak selling period,” he said.
Mr O’Kane said customers may experience delays on certain refrigeration models and the factory would go into back order.
“At this point we don’t know why it’s happened, there were no adverse weather conditions last night,” he said.
“At this point the aim is to repair the transformers and a parallel plan B is to organise generators to come in.”