Bega Cheese and unions agree to no forced job losses

Bega Cheese and unions agree there will be no forced job losses at processed cheese plant

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Bega Cheese and unions agree to no forced job losses at the company's Bega processed cheese plant.

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Unions and Bega Cheese management have agreed there will be no forced job losses following the company's decision to cut over 70 positions at its Bega site by the end of the year.

The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) and The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union met with the company for a second time in a week on Tuesday, after job losses at the processed cheese plant were announced earlier this month.

The agreement will see nineteen redundancies from the line, with redeployment and retraining opportunities provided for all workers wanting to remain.

In a July 7 letter to staff, Bega Cheese CEO Paul van Heerwaarden said the consolidation of jobs from Bega to Strathmerton in Victoria, did "not sit comfortably with Bega as an organisation".

He said the decision, which was made following a review involving Boston Consulting Group, was completed in order "to simplify our business and processes and reduce complexity to ensure that we have the infrastructure, supply chain and customer model that will create value for us well into the future".

"Late last year, in response to tightening market conditions, we announced a profit downgrade to the stock exchange citing unprecedented milk supply competitive pressures and easing of demand from some of our major customers," Mr van Heerwaarden said.

"At this time, I also announced that for us to maintain our competitive position, I had commenced a review of our supply chain and overhead costs."

Mr van Heerwaarden also said he expects further changes will be announced towards the end of the year.

Patricia Fernandez, state secretary of the AMIEU, said unions and management have "worked together positively to ensure that all workers are consulted, informed and supported".

"Any job losses or workplace change is difficult, but everyone at Bega Cheese has come together in the spirit of collaboration to make the process as fair and open as possible," Ms Fernandez said.

"Our priority now is to ensure the ongoing viability of both the Ridge St and Lagoon St facilities into the future. We want to see the company employing more local people, not less."

Unions said the agreement surrounds Stage 1 of the the move to make 74 positions redundant in the individually wrapped slices line by December, and will see every worker wanting to remain with the company being able to do so.

For workers wanting a redundancy, unions say they have secured payment of notice in lieu, a payout of sick leave entitlements and revised payout calculations after unions contested the proposed amount.

The consultation process will continue to ensure all workers are comfortable with the process, unions said.

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