MEMBER CONCERNS: The club has re-opened this week in a challenging year for the hospitality sector. 

By JOHN DOOLEY

IN WHAT was meant to be a year of celebration to mark the Mildura Working Man’s Club’s 125th anniversary, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing the closure of hospitality venues across the district, like many other businesses the Workers has faced trading challenges under COVID restrictions.

Concern about the status of the club was raised after the resignation of CEO Jill Fleming several months ago, after serving in the role for just 12 months.

Mrs Fleming, who had been a 20-year employee, was the club’s first female CEO, and prior to her appointment she had been in the role of operations manager for 10 years, supporting then CEO John Harlock.

It is understood that her replacement Catherine Bianchi was only in the role for a short period, before she abruptly left the position, at about the same time the board’s chairman Tim Rodger also resigned. There is no suggestion that the two departures are linked.

Newly-appointed board chairman, Anthony Fox was this week approached by the Weekly to clarify some of the speculation around the club’s status and staff movements.

His response was not received at the time of going to press.

A number of members have contacted the Weekly recently, all expressing their concern about the future of the club.

“I’ve heard the speculation about the club’s position and like so many others, I love the Workers and trust that it can continue being a strong club and have a great future,” Worker’s member Geoff Butcher said.

“It’s been a really difficult time for all of the pubs and clubs,” he told the Weekly.
Mildura Working Man’s Club has reopened this week with Bistro 121 providing dining-in meals Tuesday to Saturday.