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Cloud over jobs at glass firm

Post Time:Sep 23,2008Classify:Company NewsView:420

A GLASS manufacturer with a history in Geelong dating back more than 70 years faces a bleak future, a union official has warned.

CSR, which purchased Pilkington Automotive last year and re-branded it Veridan, has ordered its employees to take four weeks unpaid leave before the end of the year.

Workers are scheduled to take a week’s break this month in their second stoppage since August.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union leaders John Irvine and Craig Marshall said some workers were forced to use holiday leave.

Mr Irvine and Mr Marshall were former employees at Pilkington prior to the Viridian takeover.

Mr Irvine said the North Geelong business once employed more than 700 but now had just 70 staff.

“They’ve been fairly ruthless and have now said things are quiet and people need to take time off,” he said.

“There’s been no debate about it – it was going to happen.

“People understand it’s quiet, so they’re not in a position to argue with the company.”

Mr Irvine said a downturn in trade, including several lost contracts, was to blame.

“I think they (Viridian) are more of a chance of going out of business than generating more business because they’ve consistently dropped their numbers and their orders over the past 10 to 15 years,” he said.

Pilkington, which opened in Geelong in 1937, lost work supplying Ford with car windows several years ago.

The mandatory stoppages at Viridian have increased Geelong’s manufacturing woes after the Independent reported last week that Ford had told its workers to expect up to 18 “down days” on half pay until the car giant introduced further job cuts in mid-November.

Mr Marshall said former Pilkington colleagues had told him they were feeling the pressure.

“Every time I bump into them they say it’s knackered, it’s just about over,” he said.

“On the nightshift, they’re saying they’ve only got about seven people where there used to be a couple of hundred.”

Geelong Manufacturing Council executive officer David Peart said free trade agreements and tariff reductions were hurting Veridan.

“They’re one of many component manufacturers feeling the impact of reduced volumes and more intense competition – that’s how it’s been for a number of years,” he said.

A CSR spokesperson denied the remaining jobs were under threat.

But the company would continue monitoring the flagging automotive industry, the spokesperson said.

“There has been a downturn and we had to implement these measures, reflective of the change in the downturn.”

Source: www.senews.com.auAuthor: shangyi

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