In a major blow to the local job market in these uncertain times, major concrete supply company Rocla has announced the closure of its Emu Plains site.
Rocla has stressed the closure is not a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and instead said a “challenging market” was the driving force behind the decision.
The move to cease operations at the Emu Plains site will also affect the Dubbo distribution site, which will also close in the near future.
Other Rocla sites will not be impacted.
But Australian Workers Union (AWU) National Secretary Daniel Walton believes the company took the “easy way out”, to the detriment of their employees.
“At a time when Australians should be pulling together to get through this crisis, Rocla management have chosen the lazy, heartless option,” he said.
“There are companies big and small who would be in much tougher positions than Rocla and they have come up with ways to keep operating and keep people employed.
“The way management has treated Emu Plains workers is a disgrace. There has been zero consultation and no attempts to facilitate a solution that can keep the doors open.”
The AWU has taken the matter to the Fair Work Commission.
“We believe Rocla has breached its legal obligations to consult,” Mr Walton said.
The AWU estimates 94 jobs will be lost from the closure of the Emu Plains site.
Rocla General Manager Nicole Sumich said the decision to close the concrete pipe and precast plant was difficult and came only after exploring a number of alternative options for the site.
“We have been operating in a very challenging market and the Emu Plains site has been materially unprofitable for some time,” she said.
“The financial performance of this site cannot continue to be absorbed by the wider Rocla business.
“We understand that this is a difficult time for our employees and we are supporting them through a thorough consultation including one-on-one support and access to an employee assistance programme.”
Ms Sumich said where there is the opportunity to do so they are offering people redeployment to other Rocla sites or Fletcher Building businesses.
Those who are unable to secure a new role within the company, will receive a redundancy payment.
Manufacturing will cease by the end of the week, with the rest of the site to close in stages over the next few months until remaining customer orders are fulfilled.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.