Kraft has confirmed that the closure of its Broadmeadows facility in Victoria is scheduled for 31 March 2006, just-food has learnt.

The company explained that the closure was part of a company-wide business review examining how Kraft can accelerate its competitiveness in the Australian food sector. Kraft also confirmed reports in the Australian press that the manufacturing of biscuits, including the popular In A Biskit, Premium and Captain’s Table brands, will be relocated to China.

One hundred and fifty one people will lose their jobs because of the closure.

Kraft Foods vice president and area director for Australia and New Zealand Chris Bell said: “Kraft is especially mindful of the impact this decision will have on our employees. We will ensure that all affected Broadmeadows employees are given access to every support during this difficult period, and they are guaranteed to be paid their appropriate entitlements, including a redundancy package. Employees will also have access to comprehensive career transition support services.”

However, when Veronica Ilias, assistant secretary to the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU) representing the Broadmeadows workers, spoke with just-food she presented a very different picture.

“Kraft workers for many months had heard rumours that the factory was going to close. But management showed so little respect for the loyalty of their people that they consistently misled the workforce with constant denials,” she said.

The union has been highly vocal in its criticism of Kraft’s decision to relocate to China. Ilias reiterated the LHMU’s stance, criticising the actions of the company, the Howard Government and the World Trade Organisation.

“It is a reflection of how big capital is prepared to shift resources to a nation where working people are paid a pittance and have little or no job rights. The WTO is a croc for ordinary working Australians. And John Howard is allowing these attacks on battling voters without lifting a finger.”

The union will continue talks with Kraft to enhance the workers’ redundancy package.