UNCERTAINTY over the security of another 60 jobs in Ballarat is a fresh blow to a city that has suffered great loss in the employment sector of late.
This uncertainty was triggered when car parts maker CMI stood down its Melbourne workforce because of a dispute over unpaid rent.
It closely follows the loss of almost 300 jobs in the city in the past 12 months – 120 at IBM, almost 100 at Telstra, 38 from Mars Chocolate Australia, 21 at SEM Fire and Rescue and six at Ice Engineering.
Speculation is rife that the latest company to suffer economic woes, CMI, will go into administration. About 80 workers at CMI’s Campbellfield factory have been locked out since Friday after the landlord changed the locks due to unpaid rent of more than $100,000.
With McCallum Disability Services contracted to undertake work for CMI, this has put about 60 Ballarat jobs at risk. These are positions held by supported employees at McCallum, people who most need the work, not only for monetary reasons but for the boost it gives to their self-confidence and self-worth.
Not so long ago many of these people were shunned by the community and were not given the opportunity to reach their potential. Through organisations like McCallum, they have been given an opportunity to realise that they, too, are valuable community members.
McCallum manager Trevor Miller said any job losses as a result of the CMI dispute would be devastating for the workers. “Our supported employees would be severely affected if CMI ceased production or postponed work,” he said.
“There would be an immediate impact for the employees, their families and carers and a big ripple effect in Ballarat.”
McCallum employs workers with a disability under a contract arrangement with CMI Ballarat.
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu has pledged the government’s willingness to help restructure CMI, which is one of the key suppliers to Ford and other automotive manufacturers. However, he stressed the government remained concerned for the supply chain in the automotive industry.
Let us hope the premier remains true to his word in an effort to shore up positions in Ballarat and other regional and metropolitan communities who rely heavily on these jobs.