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Opal to cut 220 jobs in Australia and New Zealand

Opal has told workers it plans to cut 220 jobs across Australia and New Zealand businesses. Source: Timberbiz

It is understood 45 jobs, mainly office staff, will go at the company’s Maryvale plant in the LaTrobe Valley.

Opal, one of the Australia’s largest paper and packaging companies,  is the local subsidiary of Japanese paper giant Nippon and runs a paper production mill at Maryvale.

It also operates a stationery manufacturer in the Melbourne suburb of Preston and has a site in Botany, New South Wales, which produces container board.

Two hundred jobs were cut at the company’s Maryvale mill when it ceased white paper production in December 2022.

In a statement to staff seen by Timberbiz, Opal chief executive Chris Nagaura blamed the decision to axe the jobs on “a series of unplanned challenges”, including COVID-19 and rising energy costs.

He also said “market disruptions” from the company’s decision to cease white paper production at the Maryvale site were “continuing to severely impact Opal’s financial performance”.

“Compounding this, unnecessary complexity and inefficiency exists across Opal,” Mr Nagaura said in the statement.

“Consequently, our operating costs are higher than they need to be.”

According to the statement, the measures to improve Opal’s performance will affect the entire company.

An Opal spokesperson told the ABC the company was reviewing its “organisation structure across salaried roles” as a result of challenges that had affected its profitability.

“There will be no impact on Opal’s customers from these changes,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Opal is committed to fully supporting our valued team members as we work through this transition.”

The ABC says the statement did not address which parts of the business would be affected by the cuts.

Opal is one of the Latrobe Valley’s largest private employers and still manufactures brown paper products at Maryvale.

It is unclear which parts of the business will be affected, but unions representing staff at the Maryvale mill believe some jobs will be lost at the site.

Electrical Trades Union Gippsland organiser Peter Mooney told the ABC he understood there would be “some impact” at the Maryvale site, but did not know how many local jobs would be lost.

“What impact in total is very unclear and we would like to ask some questions of the local management as soon as possible to find out exactly is going on and what this actually means for the site,” he said.

“Some of our members are starting to say, ‘Is there a future with Opal in the paper manufacturing area?'”

The ABC said Mr Mooney believed the workforce deserved answers to the questions raised by the announcement.