The ABC reports that the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and NSW opposition blames the government for shutting Volgren out of a tendering process.
Volgren will shut its Tomago plant next month, affecting what is reported to be between 60 and 85 workers. The recent decision to use a Queensland-based bus-maker, BusTech, to provide double-decker buses on a trial north-west T-way route has been linked to the closure.
“There are a number of really competent, capable NSW manufacturers who can build double-decker buses to a very high quality. One of them is here in the Hunter,” Tim Ayers, the AMWU NSW secretary, told the ABC.
“This is the kind of contract that would have kept that firm alive, that would have kept dozens of jobs.”
The opposition has also criticised the decision to use BusTech. “In the Hunter, 85 workers are losing their jobs at… Volgren as a result of the O'Farrell government's decision to stop ordering buses from them,” Transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe told The Australian.
Transport minister Gladys Berejiklian insisted to the Newcastle Herald that the government was supporting NSW jobs by using BusTech. “The manufacturer’s facilities are near the NSW border and 40 per cent of staff are from NSW,” she said.
Whatever the case, Volgren believes it could’ve provided the buses.
“We have a long history of producing double-decker buses, which run today in Singapore and Hong Kong,” sais Volgren sales and marketing manager Tony Kerr.