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Future is Uncertain for Electrolux Fridge Plant In Australia
Feb 18, 2013
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Just days after new investment plans were laid out to support manufacturing high-efficiency refrigerators at the Electrolux plant in Orange, NSW, Australia, the company has announced that the plant's future is under review.

Plant workers, according to Australian media, were told that the Orange plant will need to prove it can produce refrigerators at costs competitive with other Electrolux plants, such as those in Thailand, New Zealand, and even, perhaps, China.

Electrolux's Australian Managing Director John Brown said a six-month investment study will be conducted. If the Orange plant cannot prove its ability to compete on costs, it could close as early as the end of 2015. The plant employs about 600 people.

The news came a few days after the announcement of new investments in Orange. The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) reported on Feb. 7, 2013, that a total of $14 million (Australian dollars) would be invested in Orange to produce more efficient refrigerators.

The plans include a $4.7 million grant from the Australian federal government's Clean Technology Investment Program along with Electrolux plans to invest $9.4 million. The investment would enable the plant to make refrigerators with 11% higher energy efficiency.

AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian said the project helped the environment by increasing the efficiency of the 300,000 refrigerators produced each year while helping local industry and jobs transition to a lower carbon economy.

But the plans to put corporate money into the plant also appear to have helped spur the new investment study. An Australian Financial Review report indicates that Electrolux now plans to invest a much larger sum of $50 million, but has essentially put several of its plants in different countries into competition to get that investment.

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