Orange is starting its first week preparing for the eventual closure of one of its biggest employers and a significant industrial landmark.
The Electrolux plant, formerly known as Emmco and Email has been manufacturing whitegoods since 1946 and before that was a small arms factory.
At present, the focus is on the 500 staff who will become redundant between now and the final closure in 2016, when operations will be moved to Thailand.
The Managing Director of Electrolux Australia and New Zealand, Doctor John Brown, says the future of the site has not been considered.
“We have put all our effort locally here for the last nine months in putting the best case forward for Orange to secure the funding,” he said.
“We have not put time and effort into thinking about what we might do if we were not successful.
“The time for that thinking is now and we have about two, two and a half years to work that through.”
Criticism is being levelled at the federal government for not doing more to protect Australian manufacturing, in the wake of Central West factory closures and downgrades.
As well as the jobs to be lost at Electrolux, more than 200 positions will go or are at risk at Simplot in Kelso and Downer EDI in Bathurst.
The Electrical Trades Union says the federal government must take steps to protect jobs because Australian manufacturers cannot compete globally on price.
A worker at Electrolux for nearly 44 years, Gaetano Torrisi, agrees.
“See we build pretty good product down here you know, but the one (s) that come from overseas, it’s not going to be the same,” he said.
“You know, the government should do something about it to lift you know the imports tariff up to say stop, some coming in and use more Australian product.”
There are concerns about the shrinking job market for some Central West workers with the closure or downgrade of several businesses.
The Electrical Trades Union represents maintenance workers who keep industrial operations running, and Secretary, Steve Butler, visited the Central West on the weekend.
He says electrical workers could find it particularly hard to find new jobs.
“At the very same time you’ve got the state government looking at possibly selling the electrical distribution network and there’s another 400 to 500 workers in the Bathurst, Orange area working for Essential Energy so the job market really really tightens up.”
At Electrolux, management says some of the workers at Orange may choose to apply for jobs at its plant in Adelaide.
Process worker, Elizabeth Majeweski, who has been at Electrolux for 19 years says she has mixed feelings about the announcement.
She says she has no idea what she will do but she won’t start actively looking for work yet.
“I don’t know, live life,” she said.
“I’ll probably move I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.
“I don’t know, I really don’t know, I haven’t thought about it.
“I can only dream.”