Around 600 Port Kembla workers and AWU officials met yesterday at the Fairy Meadow Fraternity Club in Wollongong where they passed a resolution to enter into a mediation process with the BlueScope management with the aim of identifying productivity improvements and cost saving initiatives throughout all areas of the business.
It comes after BlueScope Chief Executive Paul O’Malley told workers last month that the company needed to find $200 million in annual cost savings to prevent the closure of Port Kembla by either shedding 500 jobs or mothballing steel production at the plant.
The resolution, which the AWU published yesterday, said that Port Kembla workers would agree to a list of concessions – including suspending their right to stage protected action – provided the company’s management shares in any job cuts at the plant.
“It is acknowledged that a number of job losses may occur during this process, but these losses should not just be targeted at shop floor members. Any restructure should include management roles as well. We support the suspension of bargaining and protected action during the mediation process,” it says in the resolution.
In addition, the resolution called on the authorities to protect the steel industry by imposing emergency safeguard tariffs.
“We call on the State and Federal Governments to do more to support the Port Kembla steelworks, through policy changes and new legislation including public procurement policies that puts Australian steel making jobs first.”
The AMW also called for the meeting to be reconvened in 4 weeks’ time to provide a report back to the membership on the status of the mediation process and other steelmaking issues.