NEARLY 60 more Lower SE workers are without jobs after McCain announced it would close its Penola potato processing plant in December.
Coming on the back of timber mill closures and job losses at sites including Mount Gambier, Kalangadoo and Nangwarry over the past 12 months, the announcement is another major blow to the workforce in the lower half of the Limestone Coast.
McCain Foods announced the closure on Tuesday, regional president Louis Wolthers citing rising labour and electricity costs, high raw material costs and surplus capacity as the reasons for the decision.
The Penola plant will be the fourth Australian fruit and vegetable processor to close this year and the 13th since 2009.
Fifty-nine permanent staff - most of whom live in the Penola, Nangwarry, Millicent and Mount Gambier regions- will receive redundancy packages.
The Herald is also aware there will be more people affected come December 20, with casual employees - including at least one Naracoorte local - and SE growers losing out. They will have to pay higher transport costs to have their potatoes processed - probably at Ballarat.
Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin expressed his disappointment at the news.
"My thoughts go out to those workers and their families who are affected," he said.
"The high operating costs that McCain has cited as one of the main reasons for the Penola closure are pressures which are currently being felt throughout the business sector."
McCain Foods will continue to process potatoes at plants in Smithton, Tasmania and Ballarat, Victoria.