Unions want steel tariffs, mandatory local content on projects

The AWU will meet at Port Kembla on Wednesday at 7 am, with unions seeking government action to save the No. 5 blast furnace.

Last week the company announced that it needed $200 million in savings to be made to keep its Port Kembla operations running, seeking a minimum of 500 jobs cut. A predicted 5,000 local jobs would be lost if the site shut.

The AWU and South Coast Labour Council are seeking government action to save the site, such as tariffs and the mandatory use of local steel by governments for infrastructure projects.

"South Africa are doing three things. They are imposing a 10 per cent import tariff. The steel companies have agreed to cap steel prices and profits,” Arthur Rorris of the SCLC told Fairfax. He said any cost cuts wouldn’t address the glut of cheap imported steel.

“And the South African government has asked its state-owned enterprises to procure their steel requirements from locally made steel.”

The AWU represents 95 per cent of shop floor workers at Port Kembla. It will hold a meeting onsite on Wednesday, and a “buy our steel” community rally on September 12.

Three tiers of government will hold a crisis meeting on September 7, with the state and federal governments raising the possibility of assistance last week.