Politicians and the council have joined forces to secure a meeting with Coles over its decision to close its Goulburn distribution centre.
A meeting is being arranged for the week beginning November 19. It will involve Mayor Bob Kirk, general manager Warwick Bennett, Goulburn MP Pru Goward and member for Hume Angus Taylor.
Cr Kirk said he spoke to both politicians and was able to arrange a meeting with senior management in Goulburn. It will be held in Mr Taylor’s office.
It follows Coles’ announcement on Friday that it would close the Ducks Lane facility by 2023, leaving 250 to 300 jobs in limbo. It will also close another four DCs in NSW and Queensland and build two automated facilities to replace them. The council is pushing to have one of those relocated in Goulburn.
“They’ve decided to close that facility and we want to know more as well as promote Goulburn as a future site. We want to get an outcome,” he said.
Cr Kirk could not say at this stage whether he’d push for the current facility to be kept open. Earlier he told The Post that Coles was unlikely to reverse the decision. But he said everything was on the table.
Meantime, Ms Goward has written to Coles Supermarkets’ manager of government relations over the decision.
“As a major employer in Goulburn, the news of the planned closure of the centre is an enormous blow to the community and I cannot adequately express to you my disappointment with this announcement,” she wrote.
“Whilst you have guaranteed the closure will not be complete until 2022, this is obviously not enough to ensure financial security for the many affected families.
“I am confident that the Goulburn region could provide Coles with a competitively priced and strategically located site and I invite you and your executive to visit Goulburn in order to explore these options.”
Mr Taylor said the announcement came as a major setback, especially given the city’s recent strong jobs growth.
“My thoughts are with the workers and their families. We will support them through this. The Government, the community have their backs,” he said in a statement.
“But we still have time to convince Coles to re-think – and push for Goulburn to be one of the sites of the company’s planned new automated distribution centres. We’ve got the workforce, location and access to major transport links to make a fantastic case.”
Coles declined to answer a range of questions including whether Goulburn might be considered for an automated centre and its process for selecting a greenfield site.
“Coles will engage with a range of stakeholders including Goulburn Mulwaree Council regarding our announcement, and we will continue to consult with our team members,” a spokesman said.
The National Union of Workers is meeting with the company and its members today.
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