UPDATE: Union response
The Australian Manufacturers and Workers Union has released the following statement:
"The AMWU have met with MaxiTrans management throughout the redundancy process that has been underway. While the total number of positions made redundant varies between Salaried staff, Casuals and staff covered by the AMWU Enterprise Agreement. For staff covered by the EA MaxiTrans have been seeking volunteers before looking to force redundancies. For the permanent staff on the shop floor, each redundancy has been voluntary.
"AMWU representatives are in discussions with MaxiTrans to ensure that an outplacement provider is available for all redundant positions, to help workers find a suitable job following their time at MaxiTrans.
"The AMWU will continue to work with our members and MaxiTrans into the future to ensure the staff who remain employed by the company are secure in the future of their jobs while the company goes through a period of change."
Almost 70 staff at Wendouree-based manufacturing business MaxiTRANS have lost their jobs, the company has confirmed.
Sixteen permanent and about 50 casual staff have been laid off at short notice in recent weeks at the Learmonth Road factory, which makes truck and trailer parts.
The MaxiTRANS managing director and CEO Dean Jenkins said a "depressed market" was to blame. He described the business conditions for the company as the least favourable since the global financial crisis, and said there was little to suggest any improvement in the short-term.
Four white-collar staff have been made redundant along with 12 shop-floor workers.
Mr Jenkins also confirmed several dozen casual staff lost their jobs at the site over the past five to six weeks. The company now employs no casual workers at its Ballarat site.
The company has traditionally relied on a high ratio of casual employees.
Staffing levels at the Ballarat site are now at their lowest levels for "a substantive period", Mr Jenkins said.
He estimated the job losses announced on Monday represented a little more than five per cent of the permanent workforce in Wendouree.
Some of the company's other sites - particularly in Melbourne - had borne an even bigger impact, he told The Courier.
Until that market moves, we are going to struggle to see much else other than really difficult timesDean Jenkins, CEO MaxiTRANS
Other companies had also been making similar decisions, he said, adding a couple of significant orders received in July and August had meant they were able to defer the decision for a few weeks.
"It's been a pretty tough day for our people," he said. "We've parted ways with some really good people today. It is something that we would absolutely rather not do.
"It's nothing that they have done as individuals. Until that market moves, we are going to struggle to see much else other than really difficult times."
One former casual worker contacted The Courier criticising the lack of notice given to staff, saying they had been given less than 24 hours' notice.
Mr Jenkins said: "We always like to give people as much notice as possible. We are in an industry that moves very swiftly. There's a balance between that and making indiscriminate, rash decisions too quickly.
"I have no doubt that the decisions we have made have impacted some people very rapidly, for that we can only apologise."
There were also job losses at the Wendouree site back in March when about nine-full time staff were made redundant as well as about 30 casual staff.
My thoughts are with the affected workers and their families...The Government needs to take action to get our economy back on trackCatherine King
Last year, the company received a $60-million order to build 395 trailers for Coles. However, Mr Jenkins said there was no indication the market was likely to improve in the near future.
"We have no seen no signs of green shoots in any of our data to suggest anything is going to change anytime soon," he said.
There are also concerns about the long-term prospects of other jobs in the city - such as at train manufacturing company Alstom - as that company awaits news about state government contracts.
The Australian Manufacturers and Workers Union said it had been in discussions with MaxiTRANS management.
However, the union said it did not want to comment until the company had released a full statement. They did not respond in time for publication after MaxiTRANS confirmed the job losses just after 4pm on Monday.
Local federal representative Catherine King said: "It's always a sad day when jobs are lost in our community, and my thoughts are with the affected workers and their families.
"We know that times are tough and many Australians and Australian businesses are worried about the economy.
"The government needs to take action to get our economy back on track."
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