Employment in the western suburbs has been dealt another blow, with more than 100 jobs to go when a poultry processing plant shuts its doors.
Baiada Poultry announced last week its Laverton North processing plant will be shut down on March 31 next year due to “tough market conditions”.
All processing operations will be consolidated and moved to New South Wales.
Baiada Poultry managing director Simon Camilleri said the decision to close the plant was a difficult one that management had agonised over and tried to avoid.
“Unfortunately, market conditions require us to consolidate our national processing operations, meaning we could no longer viably operate the Laverton processing facility in the medium to long term,” he said.
“We will be working through the process of closure with our employees, growers and other business partners, to minimise impacts wherever we can.”
Mr Camilleri said all employee and contractual obligations will be met, and the company will “work closely” with the National Union of Workers to find affected staff new roles with other employers.
National Union of Workers spokesman Alex Snowball said the plant’s closure was “absolutely devastating” for workers.
“Most of these workers have worked [at Baiada] for about 15 or 20 years; they’ve only ever worked in poultry,” he said.
Mr Snowball said the union would help the workforce – mostly made up of people aged over 35 and from migrant backgrounds – to find new jobs.
“[Baiada] has indicated they will work with them to get jobs elsewhere in the poultry industry,” he said.
“It’s still early days, with the first half [of workers] to go in January, and the second half in March … so there is time to do something to assist these workers.
“It’s just really sad news.”
Sixteen chicken growers will also have their contracts terminated as a result of the closure.
The Victorian Farmer’s Federation (VFF) chicken meat president Allan Bullen said the closure was a severe setback for the poultry industry.
“It’s a sad situation that has unfortunately been driven by market concerns … we un
derstand the decision Baiada has taken,” Mr Bullen said.
The distribution arm of the Laverton North processor will not be affected by the plant’s closure, and will continue to operate.