Company move guts staff

Staff at Johnson Health Tech in Morwell face an uncertain future after being told the business will be relocated to Dandenong as early as next year.

The Express understands employees were issued a letter from management on Friday, detailing financial reasons for the move, but were yet to be informed about the impact on their positions with the company.

More than 20 people are employed at the Morwell branch of the global company, which specialises in design, production, marketing, sales and installation of fitness equipment.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he had contacted the company to express his disappointment in the decision and asked management to reconsider the apparent move.

“It’s an extremely disappointing decision and outcome for around 25 employees who work out of the Morwell head office, particularly in the current economic climate,” Mr Northe said.

“With the closure of Hazelwood pending it’s the last thing this town or wider Latrobe Valley community want.

“These announcements are never welcome and especially coming up to the Christmas period I’m sure it’s a devastating and sad time for the people who work there.”

The announcement follows the confirmation of Hazelwood power station and mine’s closure in March 2017 and Traralgon Indoor Sports and Aquatic Centre going into liquidation this week.

Mr Northe called on the community to “step up, get behind the local workers and contact the company direct” to tell them “it’s not a decision we’re going to accept lightly”.

“We should be calling on the company to rethink its decision and the rationale behind this,” he said.

Mr Northe said it was a “curious decision” to relocate assuming higher costs for the company to operate out of Dandenong.

He called on the company to explore some of the options available within the “economic growth zone” established by the State Government in the wake of the Hazelwood closure announcement.

The growth zone is funded by a $50 million package to create jobs and grow local businesses.

“At the moment there is support around at government level for businesses to be retained and attracted to the region given Hazelwood’s pending closure,” Mr Northe said.

“Whether the company has explored any of those options… if it is a financial decision one would hope the State Government, Latrobe Valley Authority and others within government ranks would be speaking regularly with the company about changing their decision and remaining here in Morwell.”

Calls to Johnson Health Tech management were not returned at the time of going to print.