Hundreds of dairy workers from the NSW Northern Rivers are poised to lose their jobs as employer Norco says a $35 million government grant isn't enough to keep the staff at its flood-damaged ice cream factory.
The company said up to 240 workers would be laid off at its South Lismore facility on the banks of the Wilson River, which was inundated during catastrophic flooding earlier this year.
The factory will operate again, but workers will begin being laid off from Friday next week as the facility is rebuilt, Norco chief executive Michael Hampson told the ABC on Wednesday.
The layoffs coincide with the expiration of $2.7 million in emergency wage support provided in July.
The company said an offer of a $34.7 million grant, jointly funded by state and federal governments, was inadequate to save the factory in the short-term.
Mr Hampson said the company looked forward to the future despite it standing workers down next week.
"Let's get our ice cream facility up and running and in another couple of years, once that's settled down, (we will ask) how can we expand it, how can we bring more employment to the region?" he said.
Once the factory was operating again, Norco would welcome the workers back, Mr Hampson said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he hoped the company could find a way to look out for its workers after receiving millions in taxpayer funds.
"I'll continue to work with (NSW) Premier (Dominic) Perrottet on these issues," he told reporters on Wednesday.
"I realise that the Northern Rivers have suffered greatly, including our businesses, but we have provided substantial support."
The company was on the brink of sacking 170 workers in July before federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt stepped in with a 10-week wage support package.
Mr Hampson said the cost of rebuilding the business and repairing flood damage was more than $141 million.
The figure initially estimated by the company was about $46 million.
A Norco official on Tuesday said the company was disappointed three separate project options submitted to the government support program were not approved.
"While we welcome and appreciate the $34.7 million from the governments, it falls well short of what we need to safeguard the factory's future," they said.
The official said up to 240 Norco workers from the region could lose their jobs permanently if further funding was not secured.
NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns said the decision to lay off Norco's workers was hugely concerning.
"This announcement is really going to devastate a community that's really on the precipice," he said.
"It's not just the jobs that you'll lose - it's the pay packets that won't be spent in a regional town."
Mr Minns said would speak with Lismore MP Janelle Saffin about further steps to support Norco's workforce.
An urgent meeting between Norco and worker representatives has been scheduled for Thursday next week after three separate unions urged the company to be transparent about employees' futures.
Now grants had been secured it was incumbent on the company to be open about its plans, the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union and the Electrical Trades Union said.
"Put yourself in the shoes of the workers at Norco. They've just had problem after problem, uncertainty after certainty since the floods in February," AMWU NSW secretary Cory Wright told AAP.
Norco workers had done the "hard yards" and remained loyal to the company by staying in the area, and they deserved honesty from the company, he said.