Shepparton’s largest employers enact pandemic plans

By Spencer Fowler Steen

Greater Shepparton’s biggest employers are taking measures to keep staff safe from the coronavirus, as the number of infections across Victoria climbs.

SPC chief executive Robert Giles said the company trialled a ‘work from home’ day on March 18, requiring non-essential staff to work from home before consolidating the policy in coming weeks.

“We will have to keep some people at the factory and a certain percentage will work from home until further notice,” he said.

“We’ve also cancelled visits from non-critical contractors to protect our staff, and we’re also limiting the amount of people travelling between Richmond and Shepparton.”

Mr Giles also said up to 15 per cent of SPC’s product went to hospitals and aged care as part of its ProVital range.

He said there had been a 20 per cent increase in sales of the ProVital range in the past month, with many of SPC’s offshore competitors running out of stock as people around the world stockpile long shelf-life food.

“We’ve been told various competitors will be out of stock, but it’s too early to tell at the moment if we’ll run out of stock.

“We’re seeing sales of all of our main products including baked beans, crushed tomatoes and peaches double with panic buying.

“We have more people buying our product and they’re buying more of it.”

Goulburn-Murray Water, which employs 482 people across all its offices, implemented a 14-day quarantine period for staff returning from overseas last week.

G-MW managing director Charmaine Quick said in a statement further measures had been taken such as paid leave for any staff including casuals experiencing flu-like symptoms and replacing face-to-face meetings with phone conversations.

“The situation is fluid and evolving daily,” she said.

“That’s why we are also preparing for our staff to work from home in increasing numbers.

“We are encouraging customers to make telephone inquiries wherever possible and adhere to government recommendations.”

Any G-MW employees with family members who fit into an at-risk category due to underlying health conditions were recommended to work at home.