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ASC warns of 500 potential job losses

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Adelaide-based shipbuilder ASC says the future of up to 500 jobs hinges on timing.

ACS interim chief executive officer Mark Lamarre told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday the business would have to shed some 500 workers by the end of next year if more work did not come in.

He said the company had already cut 300 jobs since May, most of them being sub-contractors.

“We have now reached our peak and are heading to a reasonably steady decline that will accelerate at the end of 2016,” he told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra.

An ASC spokeswoman later told InDaily the longer the company waited for the Federal Government to announce who would build its future naval vessels, the more pressure it was under to retain its current workforce.

“If the company was awarded future shipbuilding work to construct frigates, off shore patrol vessels, submarines, it may be possible to retain some of those workers and then build up again,” an ASC spokeswoman said.

“However, the actual numbers are dependent on the timing of the projects, and our involvement in them.”

She said the job losses were a natural grafting of the company’s 1700 workforce as shipbuilding projects wound up.

The workers, she explained, would be “progressively let go” as the contacts to build three navy frigates by 2020 neared their completion.

“We don’t want to let people go … [but] without any future work there is nowhere for them to be.

“We look forward to finding out more from Government about these projects and stand ready to take part.”

ASC, formerly the Australian Submarine Corporation, has 2600 full-time workers with 900 working on submarine maintenance and 1350 on air warfare destroyers in Adelaide, and 342 at the sub maintenance yard in Western Australia.

The company also employs a significant number of sub-contractors, including about 450 on the AWD project.

Like other shipbuilders, the company is set to run out of work at the end of current shipbuilding projects.

On Monday the business, one of South Australia’s largest employers of apprentices, was awarded company of the year by the Welding Technology Institute of Australia for its air warfare project.

It announced its latest round of apprenticeship intake in July.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government’s continuous build program for new warships was unambiguously good news.

“This is obviously a very exciting opportunity for ASC,” he said.

– with AAP

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