Local shipbuilding company Forgacs has secured the chance to tender for the multi-million dollar contract of building Navy ships, according to reports from ABC News.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) was pleased with the Federal Government’s decision to bring forward the acquisition of two new Navy ships, but says it is crucial for Newcastle to get some of the work.
In 2009 Forgacs was awarded the construction of Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) hull blocks, creating 750 local jobs from the project.
“That’s what we’ve been pushing for, is to make sure that these ships and the $250 billion that the Government is spending is going to be spent in Australia,” says AMWU Newcastle delegate Ben Horan, who lobbied Federal politicians to ensure the work stays in Australia.
“Around 2015, in between the AWD project and submarines and other projects, there was going to be a drop off for about two years where all the companies around Australia would have had to lay off a good percentage of their workforce.”
Mr. Horan is referring to what the industry calls the “valley of death” where jobs and critical skills are lost as current work winds down.
“If we lose these skills, it is incredibly difficult to get them back, which means there needs to be more work in the immediate term and planned work over the next few years to sustain and grow the industry,” says AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian several months back.
Meanwhile Labor candidate for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has expressed her confidence in Forgacs’ capability to get the contract and its positive impact on employment.
“This is a huge vote of confidence in Newcastle’s manufacturing industry and in Newcastle’s workforce bringing this forward,” Ms. Claydon said.
“And I am very confident about our capability of winning that contract.”