Bluescope steel workers vote for job losses and pay freeze

Workers from Bluescope’s Port Kembla steel plant have voted to accept an enterprise agreement which will see 500 of them lose their jobs and those remaining face a three year pay freeze.

The ABC reports that the workers voted by secret ballot on Monday and Tuesday. The agreement was originally reached in October. Yesterday’s vote ratified it.

On top of the pay freeze, the remaining workforce has also agreed to the loss of various working conditions.

According to Australian Workers Union South Coast branch secretary Wayne Phillips, there will be 220 redundancies from the shop floor, all of which will be voluntary.

"I understand we have about 15 people who are left without a role at this particular point in time, so I'm sure they can be accommodated, but no one out of this whole process have been forced out of a job," he said.

"While it's sad to lose 200 members, it's much better when those positions go on a voluntary means not a forced means."

Phillips pointed out that the result means the steelworks will stay open.

 “But that is not to say that long-term threats don’t continue to loom on the horizon. This industry remains in a precarious position and it will continue to do so unless our governments take action,” he said.

"We really need the Baird Government to commit to building NSW infrastructure with Port Kembla steel.”

The government did play an important role in keeping the Port Kembla facility open. It agreed to defer $60m of Bluescope’s payroll tax payments over the next three years. The arrangement means the company will pay the full deferment amount over 10 years from 2020.