IT was the end of the line for a Bathurst institution yesterday when EDI Downer’s operation at Kelso ceased production.
There was a sombre mood among the remaining 14 staff members when they arrived for their last day’s work at the factory.
Their last supper of a barbecue breakfast kicked things off and from there it was simply a matter of packing up the workshop before heading for home around lunchtime.
The demise of EDI Downer is a sad day for the Bathurst community as the facility boasted a staff of about 96 workers, including boilermakers, electrical mechanics, spray painters, fitters and administration staff, when the closure was announced in October last year. That announcement came hot on the heels of news that the local Simplot plant, which directly employs about 200 people, was also fighting to secure its future as a viable business.
In deciding to wind up the Bathurst plant, EDI Downer has claimed it can save $6 million by closing the plant and consolidating its business operations by focusing on the facility at Cardiff near Newcastle.
At the time of the announcement the Australian Workers’ Union said the news came out of left field and they were just as shocked as the employees.
EDI Downer’s closure shows just how fragile the nation’s manufacturing industry is.
You only have to look at the problems Simplot Bathurst is having making that business viable, the turmoil facing the Electrolux factory at Orange and the Wallerawang Power Station to realise this.
Unfortunately, both state and federal governments don’t have endless resources to bankroll businesses in the longer term which aren’t making the type of profits expected by their management and shareholders and EDI Downer is a case in point. But try telling this to the people who walked out of that factory yesterday, never to return to their job again.