The demise of Forge, the Alcoa closures and offshoring at Sensis have alerted the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) to urge the Federal Government to devise a manufacturing strategy that would instill confidence and a sense of security in industry workers.
According to the media release by the AMWU, nearly 1000 workers, 130 of whom are union members, stand to lose their jobs when Alcoa winds down its rolling mills in Victoria and New South Wales by December and ceases production in its smelter by August.
Furthermore, hundreds of union members are also in danger of losing their jobs at smaller engineering firms supporting Alcoa’s operations at Point Henry in Geelong, with the AMWU meeting a group of concerned employers within 36 hours of the announcement.
Around 100 AMWU members in WA and Queensland were among the 1700 out of work and pay due to the collapse of debt-ridden Forge Group, while 30 other members with expertise in precision graphics are among 800 Sensis workers whose jobs will be offshored, following last year’s 700 job losses, despite the fact that the company posted a $402 million profit to last December.
AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian said union officials were doing everything in their power to make sure all members receive full redundancies and severance entitlements under union agreements.
“It’s not good enough for Prime Minister Abbott to turn up and meet State Premiers after shock job loss announcements. The industry is crying out for a structured, detailed manufacturing plan for the future – not empty rhetoric about possible jobs in new technology firms,” said Mr Bastian.
“Are we to sit back and just watch good jobs end, industries shut down and communities decimated? For manufacturing to expand into the future the Australian Government must make it a top priority but we are yet to see any detailed industry policy.”
AWMU officials who met Alcoa Australia Managing Director Alan Cransberg in Geelong after Tuesday’s announcement were informed that he told the Prime Minister that workers’ conditions played no part in the decision to close facilities.
“We don’t want any more Tony Abbott blame games against workers,” AMWU Victorian Secretary Steve Dargavel said.
“The Point Henry smelting facility is 50 years old, the company has not invested in it as they have in other places, and the aluminium spot price is low worldwide.”
In Sydney, members did not expect Alcoa’s Yennora aluminium rolling mill and recycling facility to be another casualty.
“It is more urgent than ever that the NSW and Federal Governments develop a jobs plan for western Sydney,” said NSW Secretary Tim Ayres.