Electrolux’s Orange factory will close in the final quarter of 2015, with a loss of more than 500 jobs.
The Swedish parent company’s board met on Thursday and made the decision to shut the factory, which has been operating since 1946.
A six-month study of operations was announced in February, with the factory in NSW’s central west competing against lower-cost countries for $50 million in investment.
“The company’s exhaustive investment study, announced earlier this year, concluded that Electrolux is able to manufacture refrigerators currently made here more cost effectively in other factories in Asia and Eastern Europe,” said John Brown, managing director of Electrolux in Australia and New Zealand.
Tim Ayres from the AMWU said that the federal government should move in and save the workers’ jobs.
“Saving these jobs and saving this manufacturing capacity should be the number one priority for the Industry Minister (Ian Macfarlane) right now,” Ayres told AAP.
“For the sake of the 500 workers and their families whose livelihoods depend on Electrolux, I hope Mr Macfarlane steps up to the plate.”
Andrew Gee, the local state MP, told Fairfax it was “one of the saddest and darkest days in Orange’s history.
“It comes down to the fact that our market here is small and Electrolux can make greater profits in Thailand, where labour is $2.50 per hour, compared with $25 to $30 in Australia.
“Electrolux is a foreign company and it has no particular allegiance to Australia. It’s all about money.”
According to the ABC, over 1,300 fridges and freezers are made every day at the factory, under brands including Westinghouse, Kelvinator and Electrolux.