Caterpillar to cut 200 jobs in Burnie

Mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar will cut 200 jobs from its Burnie plant in Tasmania’s north-west.

The Examiner reports that some of the jobs will be relocated to a new facility in Rayong, Thailand.

The company told employees the news today and said in a statement that the decision came after an extensive review of its Burnie operations which led it to the conclusion that move was necessary to ensure it remained competitive.

"This shift in production will allow us to streamline the Burnie manufacturing footprint and focus on the production of underground mining machine models that are largely used within the Australian market,'' Burnie facility manager Dan Barich said.

"We recognise this will impact our workforce and their families.

"We value our employees' contributions, and these actions are not a reflection of them, but rather the result of a need to make our underground mining business more efficient and competitive.''

The ABC reports that Australian Manufacturer Workers Union state secretary John Short described the news as blow to the workforce. He added that the workforce would be cut in half and said that Caterpillar currently “..helps support something like 4,000 households in the area, either directly or indirectly."

The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Michael Bailey could see the decision coming.

"For some time we've been hearing from some of our north-west coast members who provide component parts to Caterpillar that there was increasing pressure on their businesses to look at costs which increasingly they've been doing," he said.

These aren't the first job losses from the Burnie facility. In February 100 jobs were cut from the plant and in September another 70 casual workers lost their jobs.

The last few years have been difficult for North-West Tasmania. Apart from the Caterpillar jobs, there have been job losses from several businesses including Paperlinx Wesley Vale, Paperlinx Burnie, Tascot Devonport, McCain Smithton, Australian Weaving, Mills Devonport, and Simplot Devonport.