MILK producer ViPlus Dairy has confirmed the loss of 31 jobs at its Toora factory, describing them as temporary on the back of COVID-19.

The company said it would issue a detailed statement on the matter, and the positive future of the company, tomorrow.

However, stockandland.com.au reported ViPlus Dairy chief executive Jon McNaught as saying international markets had not rebounded as expected following the pandemic, forcing the company to lay off 25 per cent of its Gippsland workforce.

“Making this very hard decision is not taken lightly and we have done all we can and pursued all alternative options before undertaking redundancies,” Mr McNaught was quoted on stockandland.com.au.

“Our skilled workforce is central to our success, and we are losing some excellent people as a result of this action.”

In the same report, The United Workers Unior labelled the decision as “disheartening” and said it feared more job losses could come as a result of the ongoing tensions between the countries’ two governments.

UWU organiser David Harris was quoted as saying ViPlus’ main supplier is China and “the company has told me they are getting orders cancelled left, right and centre.” He feared further job losses.

Meanwhile, member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said it was extremely disappointing to hear of the loss of 31 jobs.

“My thoughts are with those individuals and families,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I urge the Victorian Government to do what it can to assist those who have lost their jobs to transition into new work or training.

“ViPlus has been a great success story in Toora, re-opening a closed Bonlac plant and providing much needed jobs for South Gippsland. This announcement highlights that the effects of the pandemic are ongoing and will impact us all in many different ways for years to come.

“I hope ViPlus will soon be firing on all cylinders again and that, in time, these jobs will return.”