Viridian: MP aids bid to save plant

Australian MP Richard Marles met union delegates in the latest bid to save jobs at the Viridian autoglass plant in Geelong, Victoria.
Industrials giant CSR announced January 2009 it would close the f…

Australian MP Richard Marles met union delegates in the latest bid to save jobs at the Viridian autoglass plant in Geelong, Victoria. Industrials giant CSR announced January 2009 it would close the former Pilkington glass factory by July citing a lack of demand for automotive glass. Mr Marles said he and delegates from Viridian and the Construction, Forest, Mining and Energy Union were exploring a range of options for keeping the plant open, including pursuing contracts to produce solar panels. “We need to do whatever we can to keep the lights on because as long as the lights are on there is hope,” he said. “The main contract with Toyota, which CSR has now given notice on, was actually going through until 2011”. “That fact alone needs to be explored to see what more we can do because Toyota still need to source glass”. The decision to close the plant ended long-running speculation after CSR failed to outline its plans for the Geelong plant while announcing an expansion of its Dandenong HQ 18 months ago. It is understood Viridian had been reducing production at Geelong and Laverton since then. CFMEU state assistant secretary Frank Vari said Geelong members had spent the last two years coming up with prototypes for mirror reflectors to go in solar cells. “So the expertise is there but it is just a question of willingness to keep people employed”, he said. “The meeting with Richard Marles was very positive and we“re all singing from the same songsheet. We all want to keep these jobs here in Geelong”. Mr Marles said he would make contact with the City of Greater Geelong economic development division and other government departments in a bid to save the plant. “I don“t want to give false hope but I do think there are avenues which need to be explored. These are extraordinary times and it is times like this when it is incumbent upon our civic leaders to go the extra yard to make sure as many jobs as possible are saved,” he said.