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BlueScope to cut Port Kembla jobs: AMWU

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The AMWU has claimed that BlueScope Steel is planning to cut over 80 jobs at its Port Kembla operations.

The Illawarra Mercury reports that the union believes the steelmaker is planning to use contractors for more of the core operations at the plant, including production operations in raw materials.

Other job cuts are possible at the plate mill and strip mill, according to the AMWU, which has not ruled out industrial action.

‘‘We are not prepared now just to sit back and take it,’’ the local AMWU branch secretary Wayne Phillips told the Mercury, who is especially concerned about a shift to “tradesman operators”, split roles between operation and maintenance.

‘‘You can be an expert operator or an expert tradesperson,” he said.

“The two just don’t marry up.”

BlueScope’s fortunes appear to be improving after its billion-dollar loss in 2011, in which 1,000 jobs were also cut.

It has ordered a new processing line at Port Kembla (to be operational later in the year)and reported a half-yearly profit earlier in the year.

General manager of manufacturing at the company John Nowlan did not discuss details of a restructure with the Mercury, but said remaining competitive was a continuous process.

‘‘BlueScope’s Port Kembla operation has to continually overcome year-on-year escalation costs,’’ he s‘‘We are not proposing wholesale changes, individual departments are reviewing their operations on an ongoing basis to find the most productive, efficient and flexible way of meeting these challenges.

‘‘Whilst most discussions are still at the early phase of consultation, it is inevitable that some of the changes will regrettably lead to some of our people leaving the business.” 

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