UNION representatives met with Electrolux management yesterday to discuss the future of the plant, saying they were determined to fight for the jobs of their members and do everything possible to keep the plant in operation.
Regional representatives of the National Union of Workers (NUW) and the Australian Workers Union (AWU) conveyed their members concerns, since an announcement last Thursday that the factory was part of an investment study to prove its viability against the company’s plants worldwide.
NUW regional organiser Nigel Livingstone said he was encouraged by management’s approach to the challenge.
“We are all in this together,” he said.
Mr Livingstone and AWU regional representative Alan Haynes said the talks in Orange were fruitful and showed the commitment of management and unions to ensure the continuing viability of the plant.
Mr Haynes said he was convinced workers at the Orange plant could hold their own against worldwide competition.
“The workers here in Orange who produce fridges are the equivalent of the best in the world,” he said.
“And we have every confidence in management.”
Mr Livingstone said Electrolux workers had been adapting to change for the past 20 years and would rise to the challenge.
“They are loyal and have shown their ability to adapt to change,” he said.
Electrolux Orange plant manager Mark O’Kane said a recent example of the commitment of employees was the jump in production required during the recent heatwave.
“We had to produce more refrigerators, which effectively meant we had to add an hour onto their working day and they willingly took that on,” he said.
Friday’s meeting with the AWU, which represents employees who carry out manual handling, and the NUW, which represents storemen and packers at the plant, comes ahead of a meeting with plant management and state representatives of the Australian Metal Workers Union next week.
Mr O’Kane said he was pleased the meetings this week had decided on a bipartisan approach to the study.
Last year in 300,000 refrigerators and freezers were produced by Electrolux in Orange.