Mackay Sugar chief executive officer Jason Lowry confirmed 34 positions were made redundant.
Mackay Sugar chief executive officer Jason Lowry confirmed 34 positions were made redundant.

Mackay Sugar CEO confirms 34 job cuts

UPDATE 5.50pm: SMALL crops and low sugar prices fuelled Mackay Sugar's decision to axe 34 positions.

With last year's crop only about 5 million tonnes, and 5.4 million tonnes estimated this year, Mackay Sugar chief executive officer Jason Lowry said the crush outlook was way below the 5.8 million tonne average it bargained on.

"What we're seeing now, if you look back after the past several years, we're not anywhere near averaging (5.8million tonnes) so we need to reset the cost base," Mr Lowry said.

Despite cutting 34 positions last week, only four people lost their jobs.

For privacy reasons, Mr Lowry did not want to disclose which positions they held. 

The rest of the cuts would come by not refilling vacant roles and merging roles.

For example, when crushing started there would be eight fewer positions on the locomotives.

This would result in three fewer locomotives in operation.

Mr Lowry said harvesters would be asked to change their schedules, so the same amount of cane was shifted with less equipment.

"What we're doing here is at select lines, one at each mill, we're going to ask them to shift when they harvest," Mr Lowry said.

"All it's doing is moving their hours of operation."

  Mackay Sugar's apprentice program also will be deferred next year - the second time in five years.

This cuts another nine positions at Mackay mills and three at Mossman.

"There is a succession issue there. That being said, we generally hire more apprentices than we fill positions," Mr Lowry said.

"We're only stopping the intake. So everyone currently in the program...will stay in the program."

Four redundancies will come from merging office roles and six vacant positions will not be filled.

With 35 redundancies made in 2013, Mr Lowry said Mackay Sugar simply would not be able to do all it had in the past, but had come up with strategies geared at efficiency.

"What we need to do is set our cost base up so in the future, when we get a larger crop and a better price, we can reinvest that money into the assets," he said.

"Making sugar is a very asset intensive venture."


EARLIER: MACKAY Sugar have cut 34 jobs and the 2017 apprentice program has been deferred.

But chief executive officer Jason Lowry said only four staff members positions were made redundant.

The rest of the redundancies would come from amalgamating existing roles, and six roles currently vacant will not be replaced.

Eight locomotive crew will  not be recruited for the crushing season.

Mr Lowry said the efficiency improvements and cost savings initiatives have been identified as essential to meet the operating requirements of the business following the completion of the budgeting process for the new financial year.