Australian manufacturing has certainly seen better days. The growing list of manufacturing operations closing down in this country has raised major concerns about our future economy and where jobs will be generated in the coming years. SPC has gone through tough times and learned just how challenging it is to produce in this country. But nothing would have prepared Australia's last remaining fruit and vegetable processor for the shock of the federal government's rejection of its co-investment grant application in February, or the unprecedented consumer support for SPC and the sales increases that ensued.
SPC Managing Director Peter Kelly said the company had been severely damaged by ‘a perfect storm' created by external economic factors such as the high Australian dollar and the deluge of cheap, imported products that have been dumped in the Australian market.
"We had made a strong case for getting government support. Most of our problems were created by the lack of regulation in the Australian market in relation to anti-dumping laws and tariffs on imports versus exports, as well as the high Australian dollar and issues with trade practices. The unfair playing field in which we were forced to operate really hit us hard and decimated our export markets."
When the federal government blamed SPCs woes on ‘overgenerous' workplace conditions, the company challenged assumptions made by both the government and some media commentators. "We decided we had to stand up for our employees and set the record straight. We openly demonstrated that production worker wages, at an average of $53,000 a year, were in fact modest and the allowances paid were miniscule in the overall cost equation."