FIVE employees at the Maffra Murray Goulburn factory will lose their jobs, with the dairy processor announcing a reduction of 73 workers across the state.
MG announced the jobs would go across its sites at Maffra, Leongatha, Koroit and Cobram.
Leongatha will be the biggest hit, with 52 job losses.
Voluntary redundancies will be offered for the majority of affected roles.
In a letter to suppliers, MG milk supply and field services general manager Craig McRae said the company was making changes to its manufacturing operations as part of a “commitment to reduce costs and drive business improvement”.
“This continues our efforts to address our cost base, improve efficiencies and ultimately increase earnings and the farmgate milk price,” he said.
“Over the last 18 months we have managed a lower milk intake through a reduction in our contractor workforce, changes to rosters and the use of annual leave and accumulated hours.
“However, more decisive action is now required.”
Last month, MG announced it would cut 60 tanker drivers, up to six at Maffra, in response to dwindling milk supply.
Mr McRae said the changes would significantly increase operational efficiency, while enabling MG to meet demand for its dairy products.
“This decision is regrettable but necessary,” he said.
“These actions have been taken to ensure MG can deliver sustainable and competitive returns.”
Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said the news would be devastating for those about to lose their jobs, adding the Leongatha job cuts would be a hit to that town and the south Gippsland economy.
“Given the loss of milk that Murray Goulburn has sustained over the past 12 months or so, the production changes are perhaps no surprise, but that doesn’t make it any easier for those impacted,” he said.
“It is very disappointing that so many jobs will be lost.
“These workers are paying the price for some very bad decisions by the previous Murray Goulburn management in the past couple of years.
“Although the loss of the co-op is a bitter blow for many dairy farmers and now these workers, the positive mood around the bid by Saputo is cause for optimism.
“Hopefully Saputo will be able to build Murray Goulburn back up to the powerhouse it once was.”
Electrical Trades Union branch organiser Peter Mooney said the union was ready to help out.
“We can’t afford to lose any more quality jobs in country areas,” he said, noting the ETU would do what it could for those affected.
Denison dairy farmer Graeme Anderson said the news was unfortunate, but not a surprise. “There’s a lack of milk to go through the factories, so obviously they won’t need as many people,” he said.
“It’ll be up to the new owner, if it goes through.”
He said the lack of suppliers was having an effect, and he hoped that in future, more suppliers would return to the co-operative, though anyone that had chosen to leave would be locked in for the remainder of the season.
- with Alex Ford