Australia’s last fridge factory closes today

Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/ Getty.

Australia’s last refrigeration factory is closing, leaving its 300 staff without jobs.

The Electrolux factory in Orange, in central west New South Wales, produced about 1,300 fridges each day and contributed more than $70 million annually to the local economy.

Electrolux announced it would close the Orange plant in October 2013, a time when 544 people employed, saying would be more cost effectively to make the products overseas.

The last fridge will roll off the production line today, leaving 210 employees to finish their duties tomorrow, while another 90 will stay on until the end of the year in decommissioning.

It’s the end of an era in Australian manufacturing, with the factory being one of the biggest employers in Orange since the 1940s when it was constructed to boost Australia’s war effort, producing barrels for .303 rifles and bayonets.

At its peak in the 1970s, the factory, which was then trading under another name, employed more than 2,000 people.

It also is a key part of Australia and Orange’s migration history, employing European migrants who came to work in the munitions factory and later in whitegoods.