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MELBOURNE, Feb 18 AAP

February 18 2013, 3:48PM

Packaging giant Amcor will cut about 300 jobs at three manufacturing sites in Victoria and Queensland, blaming the high value of the Australian dollar and increasing cost pressures.

Amcor's cartonboard mill in Petrie, Queensland, and its beverage closures manufacturing site in Thomastown, Victoria, will close before the end of the year.

Its manufacturing site at North Laverton in Victoria will also be downsized.

The managing director of Amcor Australasia Nigel Garrard said the company was realigning its Australian operations to the challenging conditions facing all local manufacturers.

"The continued strength of the Australian dollar, significantly increasing cost pressures, including in areas such as energy costs, have made it impossible for these sites to remain competitive," he said in a statement on Monday.

"The sites are now unsustainable."

Mr Garrard said the job cuts were regrettable but necessary.

"We will continue to make adjustments to our operations in Australia in response to these conditions, in order to secure the long-term viability of the business," he said.

The sites at Thomastown and North Laverton make plastic and metal caps for sports drinks and lids for bottles and jars.

The Victorian branch of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) said the job losses were disappointing.

"Yesterday's announcement by the federal government to create jobs, and protect those we currently have through asking companies to consider local alternatives to their global suppliers is what we need," AMWU assistant state secretary for Victoria, Leigh Diehm, said.

The AMWU's Victorian branch said it believed 80 jobs would go at Thomastown and 17 at Laverton North.

The acting Queensland branch secretary of the Australian Workers' Union (AWU), Ben Swan, said 160 workers were expected to be made redundant at the Petrie mill, and this would have significant flow-on effects in the local community.

"This announcement goes to show why the AWU has been calling on the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) to do more to relieve pressure on manufacturers impacted on by the high Australian dollar," he said.

News of the job cuts came within hours of Amcor reporting a 16.3 per cent rise in first half net profit to $238 million for the six months ended December 31.

Profit grew despite the high Australian dollar wiping $20 million off earnings.

Amcor said in its results release that changes to the competitive environment had resulted in the Petrie mill no longer covering its cash costs.

"The decision has been made to close the Petrie cartonboard site," it said.

Amcor also said a decision had been made to divest the small metal closures operation and to outsource to a third party the manufacture of plastic closures.

"These actions have resulted in the decision to close a plant (Thomastown) in Melbourne," it said.

By Trevor Chappell