Staff and growers axed from Leeton fruit plant

Lion Dairy & Drinks cuts jobs and grower contracts at Leeton fruit processing plant

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REDUCTION: Lion Dairy and Drinks is cutting four staff from its Leeton fruit processing plant in Brady Way.

REDUCTION: Lion Dairy and Drinks is cutting four staff from its Leeton fruit processing plant in Brady Way.

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Four staff will be shown the door at the Leeton plant.

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THE "softer" demand for citrus products has resulted in four jobs being lost at Leeton's Lion Dairy and Drinks factory, as well as 30 farmers not having their contracts renewed with the plant.

Typically still known as Berri among residents, the company announced this week it would be cutting the four jobs from the Leeton fruit processing site.

This will leave 26 positions at the site.

The company plans to run a voluntary redundancy process to determine which staff will go.

It said it would provide "appropriate transition support and full redundancy entitlements for impacted team members".

The Leeton site will also now move to a single-shift pattern of operation from September 2.

In a statement, the company said it would also not be renewing contracts with 30 valencia orange growers, who currently supply the plant.

"As part of this change, Dairy & Drinks will give 10 months notice to the 16 Valencia growers, who exclusively supply Dairy & Drinks," the statement said.

"Those growers will be offered a new 12-month contract, which will operate from July 1 2019 until June 30 2020.

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"For the 14 Valencia Growers, who supply Dairy & Drinks as well as other organisations, we are giving three months notice and will continue to collect fruit under existing arrangements through to end of October.

"Everyone whose job has been impacted will receive their full entitlements and will be offered outplacement support.

"We will also look for redeployment opportunities across the broader Lion business along with relocation assistance where appropriate.

"Any decision that results in job losses or change to grower contracts is taken extremely seriously."

This is certainly a bolt from the blue ... - Leeton mayor Paul Maytom

The company has said the demand for their juice products has weakened, citing this as one of the reasons behind the decisions regarding staff and growers.

The union has been notified.

Leeton mayor, Paul Maytom, was disappointed Leeton Shire Council hadn't been consulted by the company prior to any decisions being made.

"It's probably not that we could stop it from happening, but we do like to be informed," he said.

"This is certainly a bolt from the blue. We didn't see it coming.

"We feel for the growers and the staff (at the factory). We will do what we can to offer support."

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