KYVALLEY Dairy is set to lose at least $60,000 thanks to the union blockade that left 58,000 litres of fresh pasteurised liquid milk rotting in the Port of Melbourne.
The blockade, which lasted for nearly three weeks and left millions of dollars of goods stranded, came to a close on Friday.
And while Kyvalley Dairy Group director Wayne Mulcahy admitted the financial loss was significant, he said the company faced a much greater loss.
“In addition to the financial cost is the reputational cost,” he said.
“We lost the sale due to our inability to deliver the milk sold to our South East Asian customer and they are unhappy about it.
“They need the milk and may source it from elsewhere. This dispute has damaged ours, the state of Victoria’s and Australia’s reputation as a reliable fresh food supplier.”
Wayne said Kyvalley Dairy appealed to the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford and Premier Daniel Andrews for help in the second week of the lengthy blockade.
However, he said both parties shrugged responsibility for the dispute onto Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) and the Maritime Union of Australia.
“We feel like we are collateral damage to a dispute that has nothing to do with us,” he said.
“We have been impacted with severe financial and reputational losses and we expected more support from the government.
“It shouldn’t be allowable for perishable food to be stuck on wharves to rot during disputes like these.”
The row began after a worker was refused security clearance to work at the Webb Dock.
The dispute was resolved on Friday when a deal was struck between the Maritime Union and the VICT and the worker was reinstated.
Since then, Kyvalley Dairy has managed to return the three refrigerated containers of milk.
Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh has slammed the Andrews Government’s handling of the blockade.
“Northern Victorian producers have been let down by Labor Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp,” he said last week.
“An illegal union blockade at the Port of Melbourne is stopping our hardworking farmers in northern Victoria exporting their goods, but the Andrews Labor Government refuses to stand up for them.
“Instead, Mark Gepp is posting smiling photos of himself and his union mates to social media, while this illegal picket is wrecking the livelihood of businesses and families in northern Victoria.
“Daniel Andrews owes northern Victorian businesses like Kyabram’s Kyvalley Dairy an apology and an explanation on why his MPs are joining this union blockade – not fighting to end it.”