Kodak closes factory in Australia.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by matt.s., Sep 16, 2004.

  1. matt.s.

    matt.s. Member

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  2. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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  3. matt.s.

    matt.s. Member

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    The link doesn't seem to work here is the text from the newspaper article.


    Kodak sacks 600 workers in Australia

    Workers at Kodak's Coburg factory digest the news of the plant's closure after a being told of the job losses at a staff meeting yesterday.

    About 600 Victorian workers have fallen victim to the digital age and will lose their jobs when photographic giant Kodak closes its Coburg film manufacturing plant at the end of November.

    The company blamed the rise of digital photography for the closure and said all employees would receive full entitlements.

    But the union movement said it had urged Kodak to investigate ways of keeping the plant open in recent years and staff would be left with poor job prospects.

    "It's a devastating blow for the workers at Kodak... and a really bad blow for the Victorian manufacturing economy," said Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Doug Cameron.

    "John Howard and Peter Costello should come down here and explain to these workers what this Government will do to support them and why they have not intervened and demanded accountability from this company."

    About 400 administrative staff will continue working at the plant's office, but Kodak Australia chairman John Allen said it was too early to say whether there would be more job losses.

    "These closures have been caused by the fundamental change in consumer behaviour driven by the increasing popularity of digital photography in Australia and worldwide," he said. "It's a very sad day but I think on site here it's understood that this is a technology-driven change."

    Workers were told the news at a staff meeting at the factory at 3.30pm yesterday. They were shocked at the company's sudden decision to close the plant.

    "It feels like my guts have been wrenched," said Spiros Vasilakis, 40, a father of three, who has worked at Kodak as a machine operator for 20 years. "We knew this would happen, but everybody thought it would be a gradual shutdown, not like this."

    He said Kodak had been "great to work for". "They've given us skills and training."

    John Van Duijneveldt, who worked for 26 years with the company, said he felt "numb" at hearing the news. "There's a lot of emotion for a lot of people at the moment. You get attached to the job and the people," he said.

    Storeman Pat Reid, 52, said it would be difficult for many older employees to find work again.

    "At my age, it would be hard for me to walk into another job. Shock is the only word. Everybody will be going home and sitting in their chair tonight and saying, 'what happened?' "

    Earlier this year US parent company Eastman Kodak said it would cut up to 15,000 jobs worldwide by 2006. The cuts are meant to save up to $1.3 billion in costs every year by 2007.

    Mr Allen said only on Tuesday did he received final confirmation that the plant would be closed.

    The first staff to finish work will be those at the site's wholesale photo processing lab, which will close on October 22. The rest of the plant will stop operating on November 26 and most employees will leave a week later.

    Mr Allen said the employees' redundancy package would compare "extremely favourably" with others offered in Australia.

    He said the decision was not influenced by the performance of the plant, nor by Australian economic, industrial or political factors. He said one in three Australian households would have a digital camera by the end of this year and 3.5 million mobile phone cameras would be sold this year.

    The company would offer counselling and career advice to help employees find new jobs and the state and federal governments had offered to assist with training, he said.

    The average employee was male, aged 45, and had worked at Kodak for 15 years.

    Mr Cameron said the fight to keep the plant open was not over. The union has asked Kodak for the plant's business plan.

    "Our first position is to sit down and talk to this company about whether these jobs can be saved. It's about maximising jobs in Australia and Victoria."

    Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union state secretary Brian Daley said many Kodak employees worked in specialised areas. "Their job prospects in the special industries that they work in, often for 20 or 30 years, is effectively nil," he said.

    While unions said Kodak had opened a plant in China, Mr Allen said it was not a case of jobs going overseas. He said demand for film and paper had declined by 15 per cent annually in Australia in the past two years.

    Victorian Manufacturing and Export Minister Tim Holding said employees would have access to State Government programs to retrain. "In 1999 the Victorian Government provided some financial assistance to Kodak," he said. "The grant agreement required Kodak to establish a regional training centre. We expect the company will keep that centre open for its 1250 remaining Australian employees."

    Federal Labor's industry spokesman Kim Carr said the closure was a devastating blow for workers, their families and the Victorian economy.

    Federal Employment Services Minister Fran Bailey expressed disappointment at the job losses and said Centrelink and Job Network representatives were organising meetings with the workers.
     
  4. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    I live near the Coburg factory, and I'm sure that every Kodak product that I've bought in the last few years (some film, developers) has been imported in its retail pack. I think that once upon a time various items were packaged here. I still have a metal can of Dektol (1 imperial gallon) packaged/made here.

    I don't know what they have been doing at Coburg, possibly colour processing, but the supply of materials to us is unlikely to be affected by this sad closure. What is irritating is that in every news broadcast on the subject they have talked about the decline of photography due to digital. Shit, we could do without the masses being reminded of that.
     
  5. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Alas the masses are the ones already buying digi which is why we have the closures / potential closures which are becoming almost everyday postings :sad:
     
  6. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    IMO digital has become a convenient excuse for them to raise profits by cutting the more expensive plants. When we read the message we see the unions involved, do you think they have unions China?.....

    Once again we see the suits lying like cheap rugs and people swalloing it hook line and sinker. I dont know the digital situation in Australia...but certainly here in Mexico, film is alive and well in the small formats.
     
  7. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    I'm not planning to be an antagonist here but, the writing has been on the wall for years now. These people working for Kodak (or anyone else in the traditional photo market) had plenty of time to re-educate themselves along with hanging on to their job for as long as the company needed them. As traditionalists this is our opportunity to transform into an art based arena rather than having to be commercially dependant. I know I'm very excited about the changes, the biggest of which is there will be fewer and fewer people to compete with. Also equipment for the time being has never been cheeper so stock up and get ready this market change is a good thing.
     
  8. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    Well said Thomas!
     
  9. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    Australia has a very high "take-up" rate of new technologies. We're a bunch of gadget freaks! The ideal consumers, as far as the marketing gurus at Sony, Canon and Epson are concerned. The Kodak executive was probably being conservative when he said one in three households will have a digital camera of some sort by the end of the year (be that a digi-cam or a phone camera).

    Film in the smaller formats is not "alive and well" here in Australia. In fact, the closest thing we had to a specialist minilab in town closed its doors for good last month. Apparently, they failed to take account of the rapid increase in digital image making when they put their business plan together last year. I don't think the other "drug store" labs will last much longer either - none of them are adapting adequately.

    On the plus side for us, many pros that I speak to are migrating back to film. They are not being compensated for the time taken to proof digital images, so are now paying for labs to print their proofs from film - it's more cost effective.

    Cheers,
     
  10. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Well said Graeme! I'm one of them!
    It's always nice to meet a local! :smile: I'm in Perth.
    Kind regards,
    Nicole
     
  11. sergio caetano

    sergio caetano Member

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    Kodak closes its plants in Australia, UK and builds a new one in China. Smaller costs ? I suppose yes. And what about quality ?...
     
  12. Brac

    Brac Member

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    Apparently Kodak have also purchased a 20% share in Lucky, China's largest film manufacturer and exchanged technologies. Now Lucky B & W film is being dumped (I can think of no other term) on the UK market. One leading B&W retailer is advertising 120 rolls both 100 ISO & 400 ISO at £1.18 each including tax, which is incredibly cheap especially as stuff coming in from outside the EEC would attract further duties.

    There are of course no effective unions in China, working conditions are often appalling and health & safety is minimal. But soon I guess everything will be manufactured in China until perhaps the popilation demands better living conditions - that could be a long wait....
     
  13. bwfans

    bwfans Member

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    Sometimes a little knowledge can lead to dangerous assumptions (sorry).

    First the price you paid in UK for one roll of 120 Lucky B&W film can buy 3+ rolls of the same film in China. (Here the "+" is almost another half roll)

    For a simple comparison of Lucky, Fuji, and Kodak, they are all outsiders of EEC - let's see if Lucky can be judged as dumping:

    Can the price you paid in UK for one roll of Fujichrome Velvia buy three rolls of the same film in Japan?

    Can the price you paid in UK for one roll of Kodak film made in USA buy three rolls of the same film in USA?

    Take Kodak as a good example. The film distributors in USA commonly import Kodak exported film and the retail price for consumers in USA can still be substantially lower than buy Kodak (made in USA and for USA market) film.

    Now the question come back - who is dumping? Lucky, Fujifilm, or Kodak?
     
  14. jandc

    jandc Member

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    About 6 months ago we were talking to Lucky about bringing their 100 and 400 films to the US market. We had gotten past minimum quantities and pricing and all that was left was to test the samples they sent. There was much speculation at that time that these were TMax technology films because of the Kodak association.

    Our testing revealed that the films were nothing like TMax. In addition the anti halo layer was very ineffective. This resulted in very poor performance in bright scenes. The 400 film at it's best is a 250 or so speed film.

    So why is the film so cheap, becaus it's cheap film. The price from Lucky is between 40 and 55 cents US depending on the film. If you throw on shipping from China and import duties you can see where the price comes from.

    In the end we decided the film would be more trouble than it was worth because of these performance issues and did not purchase any.
     
  15. Brac

    Brac Member

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    What you say John is very revealing. I haven't bought any of the stuff and don't intend to do so. My concern is that by selling such a cheap product here, in what is a diminishing market, it is bound to reduce the sales of other manufacturers and in the present situation that would be a pity.

    And yes I do consider the product is being dumped. Wages are relatively low in China with a compliant labour force which is why companies in the west (not just photographic) are flocking there to open factories (usually at the cost of jobs here). So a second rate product can be sold here undercutting drastically the prices of even the cheapest rivals. We have seen some of their colour film already and no doubt this will now be pushed more strongly.

    I can't talk about the situation with the re-importation of Kodak film into the States as I have no knowledge. But as far as Europe is concerned I don't see any evidence of dumping by Kodak or Fuji. In fact Fuji have a sensitised goods manufacturing plant in Holland where the Supervia line comes from. Also Kodak have factories in UK & France, though sadly as already announced production of many lines is due to be chopped in these. Where film will then be sourced from remains to be seen but I don't expect to find 120 size Kodal film at £1.18 a roll!
     
  16. jandc

    jandc Member

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    There has been a lot of dumping of film products by more than Lucky. Ilford was dumping FP4 and HP5 at virtual cost to anyone who would buy a sufficient quantity and rebrand it under their name. Forte struck deals where they sold lots of film at a loss. The idea was to keep production up. It ended up being a bad move. This started the downward spiral. The sourcing to Lucky is just the next step in this downward spiral. All of this will work itself out over the next year and the market will settle down. You are correct that European manufacturers can't compete with Lucky prices. But the films from Europe are also much nicer. The market will decide if quality and variety wins out over cheap.

    I don't know of Kodak or Fuji doing this but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. With regards to the price of US Kodak film versus the same film sold in other countries. This is typical of many US companies. The manufacturer will tell you that the cost of distribution, regulations liability etc is higher in the US than some other country so the US price is higher. That's the reason Americans living on the Mexican border flock to the Mexican side to pick up their much cheaper prescription drugs.
     
  17. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Quality and consistency of quality are really worth something. Of course I'd rather not have to pay the high prices Kodak charges, but the freedom from defects and the dependability of the TMax film I use is worth far more than the money I'd save buying something less expensive. Think about it - after you somehow find the time to photograph with the film you buy in your busy life, you still have to buy developer, fixer, and spend the time to process the film. Then you need paper, paper developer (I use amidol; that's certainly not cheap), plain fixer (that's expensive, too), a clearing agent and toner. And that's just the consumables. Am I really that worried about the difference between $2.00 per sheet and $3.00 per sheet? When you total it all up, that $1.00 difference is nothing.

    Thanks for taking the trouble to stock 400TMax. I ordered a box today.
     
  18. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Question for John of JandC: Do you plan to stock the 4 x 5 400TMax? I can actually buy that locally (in a store no less!...would you even believe it?) but if you carry it I'll buy it from you. It costs me $49.00/box at Penn Camera.
     
  19. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    A store? Isn't that one of those things that are made out of brick and mortar where people used to buy things way back in the olden times? I went into one of those once and no matter how much I waved my mouse around, my shopping cart didn't fill up. No wonder they didn't work out.
     
  20. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    :smile: LOL
     
  21. 127

    127 Member

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    I'm in the fortunate position of working at a University. Last year the student shop (where I buy my sandwiches at lunch time) STARTED selling sheet and roll film! It must be working out for them, as after a month they replaced the fridge they keep it in with one twice the size. Choice is limited to ilford and fuji, and it's little more expensive than mail order, but cheaper than the photography shop in town. They also do Ilford and Kentmere RC paper.

    It's darn convenient...

    (now if they only stocked Efke 100 in 127...)

    Ian
     
  22. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Here's something even more unbelievable. I can remember buying 8 x 10 film at their downtown store. I mean, like right in the store and everything. I'd give them money and they'd hand me a box of 8 x 10 sheet film with which I could drive home. And I'm not even 100 years old yet.
     
  23. Seele

    Seele Member

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    Kodak's self-fulfilling prophecy?

    At the last Sydney photo trade fair a few months ago, Kodak had a stand there of course, but even though it is the 50th anniversary of the epoch-making Tri-X, which could have been a good marketing exercise, not a single roll of film was present at the entire stand, and all they displayed was digital equipment. If Kodak convinced themselves that film has no market future, they will indeed act accordingly.
     
  24. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Doesn't that just warm the heart! :smile: