Huggies nappy Sydney factory to close and manufacturing sent offshore

Huggies nappies.
Huggies nappies. Photo: Facebook/Huggies

Huggies nappies will no longer be made in Australia after American manufacturer Kimberly-Clark sacked up to 220 employees at its western Sydney factory.

The sackings prompted union calls for government intervention to save Australian jobs.

Kimberly-Clark Australia told workers at its Ingleburn Mill on Wednesday that it would close the factory in late July as part of global restructuring.

Doug Cunningham, managing director of Kimberly-Clark Australia and New Zealand, said the closure would impact "up to 220 roles".

“Going forward, production will move to Kimberly-Clark’s facilities in Asia, enabling faster access to the latest research and engineering advancements in nappies and pants,” he said.

Kimberly-Clark will continue to manufacture Kleenex, VIVA and Kimberly-Clark Professional products at its Millicent Mill in South Australia.

Michael Aird, NSW divisional secretary for the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) manufacturing said workers, some of whom have up to 40 years' service, were "devastated, shocked and angry at the news". "It's a shock," he said. "We had no warning of this occurring.

"We want the decision reversed. It is wrong for Huggies, wrong for the workers and wrong for the community. People want a product that is high quality, is safe, and they want Australian workers to produce that product on safe and fair standards of pay and conditions."

Mr Aird said the federal and state governments should "stand up for Australian jobs and step up and join the fight to have the decision reversed so that these jobs remain in Australia".

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CFMEU Textile Clothing Footwear national secretary Jenny Kruschel said the factory closure was a "devastating blow for workers proud to be making the products that mums and dads across Australia rely on".

“As the news gets out, we already have parents asking ‘how will I know that Huggies nappies are still made to Australian safety standards?’ The reality is, parents won’t. We are rolling the dice by putting Aussie kids in nappies made in countries where product safety standards are notoriously lower," she said.

A question and answer form given to workers said the Kimberly-Clark products would continue to be designed by a local product development team and be guided "by a deep understanding of local consumer rights".

The form said the Ingleburn factory would be decommissioned and sold and where possible, machinery would be relocated to other Kimberly-Clark facilities.

"We will always look for opportunities for transfer if people are able to meet the skills requirements of roles at other sites," the document says.

"This decision was made as part of a company-wide global restructuring program that will enable us to invest more in our brands to stay competitive in the future."

Mr Cunningham said at this time, the company's focus "is on the wellbeing of employees and their families, and providing them with the support they need now and in the months ahead".

“All affected employees who leave Kimberly-Clark will be paid their full legal entitlements and redundancy pay, which is above the national redundancy provisions," he said. "In addition, out placement assistance and counselling will be provided."

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