REMAINING workers at Kiewa’s Murray Goulburn dairy have been given a “glimmer of hope” their jobs may continue, a union leader says.
National Union of Workers North East organiser Neil Smith said the company announced last week a halt on relocating cream cheese processing.
“The company have put the move of cream cheese to Cobram on hold, I don’t know whether that’s indefinitely or just in the short term,” Mr Smith said.
“Ultimately that could mean those 70 workers could stay there.
“It’s just been put on hold until there’s a strategic review and I believe it is to do with the cost of money of relocating it.”
The move follows the loss of 60 jobs with the end of milk production at the Kiewa factory, which Murray Goulburn announced in May would shut fully in 2018.
Mr Smith said workers had taken some heart from the step, but he also warned of a graver outcome.
“It’s a glimmer of hope, but Murray Goulburn may say in the strategic review they may not make cream cheese any more,” he said.
Murray Goulburn has not replied to The Border Mail.
The dairy giant on Tuesday released its financial results for the 2016-17 financial year.
They showed revenue had dropped by 10.3 per cent to $2.5 billion and the milk volume received had plummeted 21.8 per cent to 2.7 billion litres.
There was a net loss after tax of $370.8 million with an underlying net profit after tax of $34.7 million.
Murray Goulburn chief executive Ari Mervis confirmed the company had received interest from suitors which ranged from a full takeover to buying particular assets.
He declined to say whether would-be buyers were foreign or Australian.
However, Deutsche Bank has been asked by Murray Goulburn to seek more interest on the proposals and report to the board.
“The coming months will be pivotal for the future of the business as the board and management finalise substantial business improvement programs and third parties are given an opportunity to submit formal proposals to the company,” Mr Mervis said.
Murray Goulburn expects to process two billion litres of milk over the 2017-18 financial year based on a farmgate price of $5.20.
In a letter to suppliers, Mr Mervis stated a freeze on discretionary spending had begun.
“Thank you for your ongoing supply during these difficult times,” he tells farmers.
“We sincerely appreciate your support and milk, which will always remain MG's most important asset.”