BlueScope to cut Port Kembla jobs: AMWU

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.”