MURRAY Goulburn won’t say why its personnel did not front a public meeting on the closure of its Kiewa plant, but it is keen to be part of a group discussing the fate of the site.
The dairy declined to directly answer when The Border Mail asked what drove the no-show at Monday’s forum at Tangambalanga.
Instead it committed to being part of a team which will be formed to deal with the fallout from the closure.
“We look forward to participating in the working group that Indigo Shire Council plans to establish involving local, state and federal government and community representation to help support and forge solutions for our employees and the local community,” a Murray Goulburn spokesman said.
He rejected the suggestion there was concern for the safety of Murray Goulburn personnel and stated the firm was committed to sponsorships through until 2019 when asked if the failure to front showed a lack of respect for Kiewa-Tangambalanga.
Indigo Shire mayor Jenny O’Connor said Murray Goulburn’s non-appearance reflected a company ill at ease.
“It suggests that they’re not comfortable fronting the workforce, they’re not comfortable fronting the people affected by this decision,” Cr O’Connor said.
“It shows a lack of willingness to front up to the consequences of their action.”
However, Cr O’Connor welcomed the co-op’s interest in being part of the working group.
“I do commend them for being willing to participate, to work with those who are affected,” she said.
“It will be the first time I’ve seen them face up to the consequences of their action.”
Cr O’Connor criticised the co-op for failing to communicate with employees.
“It’s clear workers have no information to make decisions about their future,” she said.
“People have been offered jobs and they can’t take them because they don’t know whether they will lose access to entitlements.”
The Murray Goulburn spokesman said “outplacement specialists” would be at the Kiewa factory in coming weeks.
“We are committed to ensuring that we provide our affected employees with appropriate levels of support and the recognition that they deserve during this period of transition,” he said.
Cr O’Connor said 15 nominations to join the working group were received after Monday’s meeting.
They represent Murray Goulburn workers, business figures, farmers and citizens.
Cr O’Connor said a meeting was likely to be held in the next fortnight with the membership to be whittled to eight from the expressions of interest.
She said questions put to Murray Goulburn from Monday’s meeting had yet to be answered by the company.