Hundreds of BAE shipbuilding jobs could be lost

Hundreds of jobs at Williamstwon shipyard are reportedly at risk now that BAE Systems has decided not to bid for work on 21 new Pacific patrol boats.

The ABC reports that an internal BAE memo states the federal government will not award a contract until early 2017, with work then not likely to get underway until 2018. Reconstituting its workforce then would not be cost effective.

News Corp reports that the contract was for 21 steel-hulled 40 metre vessels, which would be donated to Pacific nations.

Fairfax notes that BAE laid off 150 employees and subcontractors earlier this year, with the defence company explaining that the government had not awarded a new Australian Navy vessel contract since 2008.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union blamed successive governments for not heeding warnings about the need for continuous build work.

"The government has been talking big but has failed to act," the union’s assistant secretary Glenn Thompson said.

The current government will not fast-track the contract. It has said the release of the 2015 defence white paper will create more certainty among shipbuilding businesses. It also blamed the former Labor government for the lack of Navy contracts awarded.

"This is indeed Labor's 'valley of death'," a spokesman for the defence minister told Fairfax.

 

Image: Joe Armao/Fairfax