What support has been offered to ice cream factory employees?
Since the floods took place, Norco has worked tirelessly to support its staff and provide a level of certainty during extraordinarily uncertain times. Having also been part of the fabric of the Northern Rivers community for more than 127 years, we take our role in the community very seriously.
Firstly, we established a Go Fund Me page to raise funds for impacted employees and farmers and are proud to have raised $109,794.15 as at 28th June 22; 100% of which has been directly distributed to those in need to support the rebuild and recovery process.
We have also proactively engaged with other local and industry businesses to identify alternative employment opportunities and presented these options to staff; efforts that not only provide employment prospects to our workforce, but also provide support to businesses in the region who have been struggling with workforce shortages following the floods.
In addition, where there have been requests for relocation that align with relevant job openings, we have facilitated this within the business, while following all other HR best practice protocol around workforce support including training, CV and job seeking assistance, as well as additional apprentice support to ensure skills and training are maintained.
Even when we haven’t had all of the information or answers, we have been wholly committed to being as transparent as possible with impacted staff following the devastating flooding event.
As part of this commitment, all Norco ice cream factory staff were informed of the possibility of stand down at a town hall meeting on Wednesday, May 25, if no further government funding was forthcoming.
While the message was not a desirable one, we felt it was important to provide a level of certainty and clarity to staff with the information we had available, to enable them to make informed decisions about their future and that of their families.
Should this transpire, it will be a very sad day for Norco and the entire Lismore community. We’ve been part of the community for 127 years and many of our staff have enjoyed long tenure with the business, which is why we’re fighting so hard for our people, our farmers and the wider Lismore community.
Unfortunately, unless further funding is forthcoming, all staff at Norco’s Lismore ice cream facility will be stood down from their jobs from July 15 when the current funding ends, something we have been working tirelessly to avoid since the floods first took place.
While this is an extremely difficult business decision, it’s one our 100% farmer-owned cooperative has been forced to make, given that our farmer members simply don’t have the means to cover workforce costs while there is no commercial output from the facility.
We are optimistic about the prospect of rebuilding our ice cream facility. However, doing so does rely on government support and funding, and we remain committed to working with both the State and Federal governments to facilitate this rebuild, which would offer great benefits not just to Norco staff, but the broader Lismore community.
With a workforce of approximately 240 at the ice cream facility alone, we are proud to be one of the biggest employers in the region. Keeping these jobs in the community supports the many small to medium businesses that rely on the economic contribution our business and employees makes to the wider community of Lismore.
This initial funding offered both financial and emotional peace of mind to a community of people who had already endured so much, and we are thankful to the government in helping us facilitate this during a very difficult time for our business and the wider community.
Norco received this funding as part of the initial phases of the Anchor Business Support Package announced by the Coalition shortly after the floods took place, however this allocation of funding is due to expire on July 15.
Since then, formal guidelines for this support package have been released and we are awaiting further information on how to actually apply for additional funds from this program.
We continue to actively engage both levels of government, advocating for greater support for the entire Lismore business community. We’re also seeking further information around this funding so as we can provide greater clarity and certainty to our people, our farmers, our customers and the many small to medium business that also rely on our operations.
During this time and as part of the funding, Norco employees have made a significant contribution to the Lismore clean up and rebuild efforts, with teams dispersed across the ice cream factory, local farms and the wider community.
Community organisations our workforce has supported include Orange Sky Laundry, Thread Together, Lifeline, Blaze Aid, Global Care, Resilient Lismore, Koori Mail and Natro Shield.
Norco is a 100% farmer owned, dairy cooperative and given the level of damage to our ice cream facility, we knew very early on that we would need government support in order to recover and safeguard jobs.
For this reason, we moved very quickly in having conversations with key decision makers in government, and we appreciate the support to date which has offered financial and emotional peace of mind to a community of people during exceptionally difficult times.
As part of the Anchor Business Support Package, Norco has received funding that covered workforce costs for our ice cream factory employees.
We are extremely grateful for this support which has included the payment of salaries and wages, including casual employees over a 16-week period – however that funding is due to expire on July 15.
We are proud to be Australia’s oldest and largest, 100% farmer owned dairy co-operative. Sadly, 51 of the 199 farms that make up our co-operative were flood affected with the damage bill running in excess of $15m. 24% of theses farmers were severely impacted in terms of their ability to produce, due to damage to dairy machinery, pastures, herd losses not to mention the emotional toll.
The road to recovery will be a long one for everyone, however the best way people can show their support is to simply buy Norco, with the knowledge that every single cent goes back to helping our farmers rebuild and recover.