Last Wednesday (July 2nd) I learnt that one of Scottsdale's two sawmills was closing. Both mills are owned by Gunns Ltd. The Tonganah mill closed on July 11th with the loss of 140 jobs. This is a massive blow for our town of 1,900 people. About 60 workers will keep their jobs in the town's other sawmill.
The past six years have been extremely tough for Scottsdale. In September 2002 Simplot announced it was closing its Scottsdale Vegetable Processing Plant. This caused the loss of 110 jobs. I was not in Scottsdale at the time but I have learnt there is a huge difference between the closure of Simplot and the Tonganah mill.
>Simplot gave 15 months notice that it was closing its plant.
>Gunns gave 9 days notice that it was closing its mill!
>Simplot employees were told of the closure by the company.
>Gunns workers learnt about the closure on the TV news on Tuesday evening!
>Simplot allowed employees to relocate to its Ulverstone plant where it invested $35 million. Simplot also gave $250,000 for economic development in Scottsdale.
>Gunns gave their workers a farewell barbecue!
Some financial figures from Gunns report to members in December 2007:
>Net profit for six months: $14.9 million (after tax)
>Auspine's contribution to Gunns profit: $5.6 million (net of finance costs & after tax)
I have become disillusioned with Gunns. In August 2007 Gunns took control of Auspine which owned the 2 Scottsdale mills. It is extremely dissapointing that Gunns has closed the Tonganah mill within a year of buying it.