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Workers must come first in Qenos process, government must shore up sovereign capability

April 18, 2024

The Australian Workers’ Union will meet with Qenos leaders and administrators to explore options for the future of the Altona site and demand workers are made the number one priority during the administration process.

“Unfortunately, this is not the AWU’s first rodeo, and we will be pulling out all stops to ensure the workers’ interests come first,” said AWU National Secretary Paul Farrow.

“Right now there seems to be some uncertainty about the future of the Altona site. If there’s a chance of retaining operations we want every option explored. We will be meeting with the administrators and with Qenos leadership to make sure no stone is left unturned.

“We have been assured that Qenos Group’s new owner, LAOP Bidco, has indicated it will propose a Deed of Company Arrangement that will fund employee’ pre-appointment entitlements, including redundancy. We also understand this agreement will be ratified in court over the next couple of days.”

Mr Farrow said aside from the devastating impact on members the shutdown had serious flow-on implications. “This news must be considered a grave warning to government that our energy intensive industries are not bluffing – they are genuinely living on the brink,” Mr Farrow said.

“We are currently on a trajectory to lose core elements of our sovereign capability. Qenos is one of only two local producers of plastics that make products like food packaging, cable insulation, and council bins. Without this capability, Australia would be further at the mercy of unstable global supply chains to meet our essential daily needs. Qenos was also set to be crucial to plans to recycle thousands of tonnes of plastics locally.

“Qenos’s Botany operations are located at Botany Industrial Park, this site is shared with Indorama, Ixom, and Orica. The shut down could have serious implications for those businesses who have traditionally shared some services, utilities and product.

“The AWU will be meeting with these businesses as well and we will be lobbying government to ensure they get the support they need to stay open.

“Hundreds of local manufacturers, including in the plastics industry, are dependent on gas. Manufacturing can be strong in this country, but we must ensure gas remains affordable and available today as we modernise for the future.

“The Albanese’s Future Made in Australia program is an excellent program that we support, but if Australia wants to be a manufacturing powerhouse tomorrow we can’t allow our established manufacturing base to collapse today.”

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