22 February, 2017
Michael Owen & Rosie Lewis
Courtesy of the Australian
Almost 200 jobs will be lost at Coca-Cola’s manufacturing plant in South Australia, a day after Premier Jay Weatherill recommitted the state to a 50 per cent renewable energy target claiming it was good for jobs and business.
Coca-Cola Amatil this morning announced that due to a restructure of its Australian operations, there would be increased production in Queensland and Western Australia, resulting in the closure of the company’s manufacturing operations in South Australia in 2019.
Coke’s managing director Alison Watkins said the company needed to “maintain our competitiveness”.
Casual workers have already been sent home and around 180 jobs will go.
Major companies in South Australia have been warning of the impact on investment and jobs in the state since power prices skyrocketed and supply was disrupted following the closure of the state’s last coal-fired power station last May, caused by the Weatherill government’s pursuit of renewable energy generation.
Coke will invest $90 million in Queensland as part of its strategic review, “This isn’t a decision we have taken lightly, but we know it will be important for ensuring our position in the market into the future,” Ms Watkins said.
South Australian Manufacturing Minister Kyam Maher said the government will work with unions to help affected workers.
Mr Maher said the closure was “exceptionally disappointing” but denied the government’s policies was driving down business investment.
He said the company had not spoken to the state government about its plans.
Mr Maher insisted job were being created in South Australia, which has long had the nation’s highest unemployment rate, and said the impairment on SPC was due to continued pressure causing a loss for the business.
Coca-Cola Amatil’s Thebarton plant, which it took over in 1951, produces 19 million cases across more than 600 products annually, including the iconic glass Coca-Cola bottle range.
Mr Maher conceded the government knew late yesterday that the plant would close, saying there were discussions with the company last night.
The Premier and his ministers are saying this morning that Coke had not told them energy costs were the reason for closing its Adelaide operations but the company in a statement said a reason was “expensive logistics”.