Workers, residents react to Coalcliff plant closure

Brett Hassall and his workmates knew what to expect when they gathered for an 8.30am meeting at the Illawarra Coke Company's Coalcliff plant yesterday.

The news wasn't good, but it was not a surprise.

Mr Hassall said employees had been informed in October that either the Corrimal or Coalcliff plant would close, and were just waiting to find out which one.

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"The company kept us well informed and in that respect it wasn't a shock, because we knew it was coming," he said.

"Obviously no-one likes to hear the news, but I guess it's a reflection of the way the general economy is.

"The fact that one plant survived and it's not total closure is a positive aspect in my eyes."

The 48-year-old was realistic about the challenges facing the company.

He said he planned to keep his options open but hoped to continue on at Corrimal.

"You're at the plant that's closing so you're the one presumably out of work with [only] the possibility of getting a start at Corrimal. So over ... the next six or seven months you've got to look at your options," he said.

"Basically worst case scenario I've got six months to find another job and in the current environment and circumstances that's about as good as you could expect."

Mr Hassall has been working at the plant for the past 24 years.

Illawarra Coke plans to call for voluntary redundancies around April next year.

Resident Anne McKenzie said yesterday she was happy the trucks and dust would be gone, "but you never like to see anyone lose their job."

Another resident who asked not to be named, said it was sad to see the plant where he used to work close but it would be quieter without the trucks.

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