8 July 2020

Bega Cheese to cut 74 jobs from its Bega Valley facility

| Kim Treasure
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Part of the sprawling Bega Cheese factory at North Bega. Photo: Weekend Notes.

Part of the sprawling Bega Cheese factory at North Bega. Job losses reflect changing consumer taste. Photo: File.

Dairy processor Bega Cheese has announced it will cut 74 jobs from its factories in the Bega Valley and move production to the Strathmerton factory in Victoria.

Bega Valley Mayor Sharon Tapscott says she’s devastated for the people set to lose their jobs at Bega Cheese as part of the processor’s moves to rationalise production.

“I’m just upset for the people who are losing their jobs,” Cr Tapscott said. “I know Bega Cheese hasn’t made this decision lightly and I understand they have a business case for the move to stay viable and keep other jobs safe. I just hope we are able to absorb these people into other jobs in our community.”

The cut represents 12 per cent of Bega Cheese’s 600-strong workforce in the Bega Valley. The company hopes it will be able to make the cuts through a voluntary redundancy process.

Cr Tapscott said she understood the cuts were not due to COVID-19 but part of a structural review.

“The drought has not helped either. You keep overlaying these things and something has to give.”

READ ALSO: Victorian teenager tests positive to COVID-19 on South Coast holiday

Cr Tapscott said her council had economic development at the forefront of its agenda, but current circumstances were proving challenging.

“You seem to take two steps forward and one step back at the moment,” she said.

“We are limping along, doing the best that we can. We are highly resilient people [in the Bega Valley Shire]. I just hope, as a community, we can look after these people.”

Bega Cheese executive chairman Barry Irvin told ABC Radio the job cuts were a strategic move to rationalise production.

“The situation isn’t related to the pandemic, it’s related to our processing cheese factory,” he said.

“We’ve elected to consolidate just the processed cheese into the Strathmerton facility because it has been purpose-built.

“Anyone who goes to the supermarket these days will see that consumers are buying natural cheese slices not processed cheese slices … it’s a shrinking market. We will have 74 staff that will not be required, we will have 19 staff go by August and the rest will be gone by the end of the year.”

READ ALSO: Clonakilla winery rates among the best

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