Closing steel store ‘a shock’

FIVE workers will be out of a job just days before Christmas with the closure of OneSteel Reinforcing in South Albury.

The decision from Sydney to shut the site was “a shock” and upsetting, driver Mike Warburton said yesterday.

Mr Warburton said three senior OneSteel managers from Melbourne travelled to Albury to deliver the bad news at the Kiewa Street site on Thursday.

The job losses come on top of three positions let go through natural attrition over the past 12 months, including both the branch manager and sales manager.

The business is understood to have been struggling for a while, but more recently the signs had been far more positive.

“For 10 months our trading was a bit slow,” Mr Warburton said.

“But in the past three months we have turned it into a really solid profit margin.”

The outlet provides steel reinforcing for a range of commercial and residential projects.

About 50 per cent of the product goes to major retailers such as Dahlsens, Bunnings and the Shepparton-based Hunter Rural Merchandise, which has outlets across the state’s north.

Mr Warburton said they were told they would finish up in their jobs on December 21.

“We thought everything was going fine but it turns out it was to no avail,” he said.

“The other blokes were pretty upset about it all. It’s quite devastating.”

Mr Warburton said he was reasonably confident he could find another driving job.

“But we’ve got a guy here who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer and he’s only 45, and he’s got a mortgage to pay as well,” he said.

“We feel pretty bad for him. There are always people worse off than yourself.

“Like many, many other people it’s the unknown and the fact you have a mortgage, you have bills.

“It’s just incredible, especially given that we had turned things around.”

Mr Warbuton said the company was aware of the recent improvement in the business, but made no reference to it during the meeting.

“There was no explanation of how we were trading,” he said.

Mr Warburton said he and his workmates had already started looking for other jobs.

Mr Warburton said while there was some cause for optimism “there’s still a lot of people out of work”.

OneSteel did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

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