PREMIER Ted Baillieu has intervened to try to save the jobs of 600 workers at Alcoa, as the state's manufacturing crisis deepens.
Mr Baillieu spoke to Alcoa boss Alan Cransberg last week and sought a meeting yesterday after the company said it might shut its Geelong plant. Mr Cransberg has delayed his flight to Perth to meet tomorrow.
Families of the 600 workers, including Alcoa's Ray O'Toole, hope that Mr Baillieu's action will save them.
The Alcoa blow comes after Toyota axed 350 jobs, glass maker O-I Australia cut 70 jobs, and Bendigo defence contractor Thales put off 50 workers.
The job cuts could have been worse without a federal government bailout for Ford, while Holden shed 100 jobs despite also discussing a taxpayer handout.
Australia's near-record high dollar, trading at $US1.08 last night, is fuelling the manufacturing sector's woes by making exports more expensive and imports cheaper.
Alcoa workers last night were coming to grips with the prospect that the plant could be closed in July.
Ian Heinrich, 49, who has a daughter, Jessica, 2, said he was worried he would never get another job. "Governments help out the car industry. What about us?" he said.
Mr Baillieu said he was committed to keeping the Budget in surplus to keep taxes low to protect jobs across manufacturing.
"I have asked the ministers for manufacturing, energy and regional cities to engage closely with the company and the local community while Alcoa undertakes its review," he said.
Mr Cransberg said he wanted to keep the plant open, but it was part of a global review of operations.
Asked if he would lobby for government handouts, he said: "We will work with whatever parties that can help make us successful."
Cesar Melhem, state secretary of the Australian Workers Union, said Alcoa had a "moral obligation" to keep Point Henry open.
Alcoa's Portland operations were not part of the company's review.
Read more on the Herald Sun.