A major district quarry operation has reduced shifts and cut jobs, citing a downturn in the Sydney construction market.
Holcim made the call at its Lynwood, Marulan, hardrock quarry almost a fortnight ago. Seven permanent employees lost their positions, along with more than 30 contract and labour hire workers. Some other roles were restructured.
"Holcim recently made the difficult decision to reduce operating shifts at Lynwood Quarry in Marulan," a company spokeswoman said.
"This decision was made to align the workforce with production demands following a further slide in the Sydney construction market, in large part due to the significant downturn in housing over the last two years."
She confirmed seven staff members and "a number of casual and contractor workers" had been affected by the change. The Goulburn Post understands the latter totalled 34 positions.
Another three roles were restructured to "better match skills with operational requirements." These covered management, supervisory and administration divisions.
"This was not an easy time for anyone but we worked closely with the affected people to ensure they were supported throughout the change and aware of the options available to them," the spokeswoman said.
"Some options explored were redeployment, where possible, and the provision of free outplacement support services."
The latter refers in part to assistance with resume writing. The Post also understands that redeployment options were not an option for most affected workers and that many have since found employment locally. Others are still looking for work.
Holcim won state government approval in 2005 to extract five million tonnes of product from the quarry. Operations began in 2015 and the company, a member of LafargeHolcim, has supplied sand and aggregates to the Sydney, regional and local construction market ever since.
In 2018, the $250 million Lynwood venture pulled out 2,242,443 tonnes of material, the company's annual return stated. A total 1,474,422 tonnes was transported by rail and 768,022 tonnes by road. Overall production was forecast to rise to 2,454,941 in 2019.
But sources have said a downturn in demand for concrete in Sydney, which Lynwood largely supplied, had impacted on operations.
In recent time, the quarry has also had to deal with residents' complaints about dust, especially on very windy days. It implemented a series of monitoring and control measures, required by a new Environmental Protection Authority condition.
The Australian reported last October that LafargeHolcim was considering exiting Australia and New Zealand to reduce debt.
Asked about Lynwood's future at Marulan, the spokeswoman said the operation would continue to be a "key long-term supplier of construction materials for the local region and Sydney markets."
"Since inception, Holcim has invested over $250 million into Lynwood quarry, including over $220, 000 in local community grants through its Community Investment Fund and other sponsorships," she said.
The quarry still directly employed more than 40 people, as well as specialty contract workers.
The community consultative committee will be updated on operations at its April meeting.
Meantime, Gunlake Quarries' community and stakeholder engagement officer, Geoff Kettle said the Brayton Road operation was disappointed a small town like Marulan had lost jobs.
"But we feel the quarry industry does have a long-term future in the town," he said.
"We're feeling the downturn a little bit but that's inherent of the industry. (However) demand for our (hardrock) product remains strong."
Gunlake has three Sydney batching plants and hopes to expand to five by year's end. At Marulan it employs about 40 people.
Mr Kettle said the quarry was well down the track acting on its 2017 approval to expand production from 750,000 to two million tonnes annually.
"We're looking at putting on new employees all the time and have a few new apprentices this year," he said.
"(But) the ongoing effects of red and green tape don't make it easy in downturns. All we want to do is provide employment for the Marulan area."
Marulan Region Chamber of Commerce president, Stephen James, said it was always disappointing to hear of corporate restructures that potentially impacted on local employment.
Holcim is a vital part of Marulan's local economy and a significant employer of full time, part time, and casual personnel as well as contracted labour hire," he said in a statement.
Holcim has always been a supporter of the Marulan community through the provision of financial grants and non-financial support for community projects.
"Although it is understandable that tough decisions need to be made in response to economic cycles, it would make more sense to reduce headcount in larger cities where those who have been made redundant have a better chance of finding new employment. Those who will be losing their jobs or contracts in Marulan are likely to have a much tougher time finding new ones."
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