Another huge bite has been taken into Australia’s shrinking manufacturing industry as Kraft Foods announced on Wednesday they were closing a biscuit factory, making 151 workers redundant and shifting production to the low-wage factories in the hinterlands of China.

Big capital treats workers like pieces in a board game

” It is a reflection of how big capital is prepared to shift resources to a nation where working people are paid a pittance and have little or no job rights.

” For them it is a board game,” LHMU Victoria Assistant Secretary, Veronica Illias ,said today.

” These global giants play this game to avoid strong independent unions prepared to fight for good conditions and voice the concerns of working families.

Howard stands aside while workers’ rights attacked by WTO

” The WTO is a croc for ordinary working Australians. It does zip about protecting working people’s human rights.

” And John Howard is allowing these attacks on battling voters without lifting a finger.

Plant closure announcement out of the blue

” The announcement of the closure of Biscuit production at the Broadmeadows plant of Kraft came as a horrible surprise for 151 workers yesterday.

” Kraft workers for many months had heard rumours that the factory was going to close.

” But Management showed so little respect for the loyalty of their people that they consistently misled the workforce with regular denials.

Callous attack on job security expectations

” However the rumours were finally confirmed yesterday when workers attended an early morning meeting called by – what I can only label – callous bosses.

” It was a callous act because they lulled many of our people into feeling their jobs were secure – so over the holiday season they didn’t watch their pennies and followed tradition of spending money on their families, kids, wives and husbands.

Many worked loyally at same biscuit factory for decades

” Had they been properly taken into the confidence of the company they could have made alternative budget decisions,” Veronica Ilias said.

” This is a blow to these loyal workers. Some have been employed at the company for 18 years; for some this was their first job starting when they finished school at 15 years of age.

Job prospects poor

” Many of these workers have worked and lived in the Broadmeadows area for a majority of their working lives, the prospect of them successfully gaining employment in this part of Melbourne is very poor,” the LHMU Victoria Assistant Secretary said.

Bosses promise new union agreement while privately planning to shut plant

” Workers were not prepared for this announcement, back in December 2005 Kraft was keen to talk to workers and the Union about making improvements to the classification structure under the Enterprise Agreement, then less than 2 months later they are closing the doors.

” This is another blow for manufacturing in Victoria to see one of the last biggest producers of biscuit production close its doors.

” 151 workers face a bleak future either suffering unemployment or facing the new Industrial legislation in a climate of job instability,” Ms Ilias said.

” The Union will continue to talk to Kraft about enhancing the current Redundancy package to assist workers with the financial hardship they will face after 31 March.”