In devastating news for the Cootamundra community, Manildra Meat Company has today told workers they will be out of a job by the end of this month.
In a meeting with workers, they announced the closure of Cootamundra’s meat processing plant with the final day of processing to be Friday, February 24.
Manildra Meat Company General Manager Jason Graham, who is based in Cootamundra, said the decision was extremely difficult and that the group’s main concern was the welfare and future employment opportunities of the employees affected by this decision.
Currently the plant employs 150 permanent and 70 casual staff.
“We cannot continue to maintain a viable business in the current industry environment, particularly given the record high livestock prices and the inability of our customers to absorb these price increases,” Mr Graham said.
In a statement to the media he stipulated that all employees will be paid their full entitlements as defined in their employment agreements.
“We will be organising on-going on-site assistance for our employees in financial advice, job search skills, resume assistance and counselling services.” Mr Graham said.
Additionally, he assured suppliers and producers that any outstanding financial obligations would be met.
The plant will not be sold as Manildra Meat Company commits to monitoring the reasons which have forced their closure for any change.
“We acknowledge that this decision will have a wider impact on the Cootamundra district and we will continue to assess the industry dynamics with the intention of processing again,” Mr Graham said.
A small team of employees will continue to be based at the plant to maintain the significant assets.
Manildra purchased the processing plant from GM Scott in 2014 with the purchase official on July 1 that year.
At the time, Manildra Meat Company Director of Business Development Peter Millard committed to expanding the beef line.
“We will support the team here to be the best it can be as a world-class facility,” Mr Millard said in the Cootamundra Herald in 2014.
Last December, they parted ways with Woolworths; traditionally a major client of the Cootamundra abattoir as Woolworths gave their contract for the processing of lamb to the meatworks in Junee.
Member for Cootamundra Katrina Hodgkinson has commented on the closure describing it as “a great loss for the electorate and of course, for the some 220 full-time and casual staff at Cootamundra”.