AMWU to intensify shipbuilding campaign to prevent further job loss


The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) is pressuring the Abbott Government to ensure that the closure of Forgacs’ dry dock in Brisbane will not result in the loss of any other Australian shipyard jobs.

Image credit: The AMWU website

The closure of Forgacs’ Cairncross Graving Dock, which resulted in the loss of 25 operational and office-based jobs, is largely seen as a consequence of the Abbott Government‘s broken promise to build a fourth Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) and its decision in June to have two navy supply ships built overseas.

The Union is now demanding to meet with Forgacs management and to press them to appear before a Senate Inquiry initiated due to their campaigns.

“We believe that this will show that the Government’s failure to back major navy shipbuilding forced their hand in shedding more than 130 jobs in Newcastle and Brisbane in less than a week. It is the workers at Forgacs and their families who are now paying the price for this sell-out of Australian skills and jobs — we will keep holding this Government to account. With no more AWD work beyond 2015, we’ve seen 100 voluntary redundancies at Newcastle and now the Keppel Cairncross yard at Morningside on the Brisbane River has become needless collateral damage,” said Andrew Dettmer, National President of AMWU, in a media release.

“That leaves 25 experienced tradespeople with no job and affects 200 regular casuals who were brought in when huge liners or other ships needed maintenance and repair. We also want to know what Forgacs MD Lindsay Stratton meant when he canvassed ‘a strategic acquisition’ on the same day he closed Morningside.“

Mr Dettmer recently led a successful AMWU delegation to Canberra which persuaded Labor, Green and Independent Senators to instigate a Senate Inquiry into Naval shipbuilding — which is expected to travel to shipyards in several states — and to receive submissions from workers, union officials, industry and the community.

Mr Dettmer said the Union would intensify its shipbuilding campaign, as BAE Systems Williamstown dockyards in Victoria and Forgacs in Newcastle were heavily dependent upon the AWD program run out of ASC in Adelaide.

“Offshoring projects to cut costs in the short-term is folly because it undermines the basis of Australia’s defence self-reliance over coming decades,”  Mr Dettmer said.

“The defence industry has said that the value in spending more to build ships here is in the retention of jobs and crucial skills. They’re exactly right, defence procurement is a longer-term investment which supports whole communities.”