Soap icon closes Melbourne manufacturing plant

Cussons is closing its Dandenong plant as a group of Australia’s largest manufacturers warns the industry’s iconic businesses are being allowed to decline.

The soap-making company is closing down its manufacturing plant, throwing 92 workers out of a job.

Cussons, whose products include Imperial Leather soap and detergents Trix and Morning Fresh, said from July manufacturing will shift from Dandenong to a plant interstate, with the remainder outside Australia.

The Dandenong facility will be maintained only as a warehouse with eight employees.

A statement on the company’s website says, “the decision was made after serious consideration and investigation of a number of other alternatives.

“Generous redundancy packages will be offered.”

The closure comes as seven companies, BlueScope Steel, Amcor, CSR, Rheem Australia, Capral, Boral and Incitec Pivot demand a government commitment to overhaul four areas: anti-dumping and industrial participation, industrial relations, access to energy and resources and regulation.

The seven companies make up a business coalition known as Manufacturing Australia which is meeting  today in Sydney.

In a communique issued from the meeting, Manufacturing Australia says, “Australian manufacturing is fighting multiple fires on multiple fronts, beset by challenges from high input costs and excessive or inconsistent regulation to the high Australian dollar.

“There is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to the sector’s challenges, but one thing is certain: the pattern of allowing Australia’s iconic manufacturers to decline, before being rushed into intensive care to be patched up with taxpayer funded subsidies, is simply not sustainable.

“As a nation, we must not allow the current difficult economic challenges to support a dangerous line of argument which contends that Australian manufacturing is beyond saving.”

The communique calls on the government to reduce the amount of cost, time and resources spent on administration and compliance with the Fair Work Act by removing the legislated default of third party employee representation.

It asks the government to strengthen anti-dumping regulations and to roll back manufacturing regulations generally especially where the regulations add no economic value or competitive advantage.

Finally, the communique criticises Australia’s energy policy.

“Australia is squandering one of its key competitive manufacturing advantages through shortsighted energy policy that favours sending our abundant natural resources overseas at the lowest point in their value chain, while other nations reap the benefits of adding value to our resources.”

Ben Eade, spokesperson for Manufacturing Australia, says he was unable to comment on the Cussons closure specifically.

“The issues highlighted today are broader than any individual company.”

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