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ASC announces new round of job cuts

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Shipbuilder ASC says up to a further 63 jobs will be cut after it shed 93 staff from its Osborne shipyard earlier this year.

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The Australian government-owned shipbuilding corporation has announced it will “reluctantly” reduce its workforce to reflect operational demand and meet project budgets after “a rigorous process” was followed to identify redeployment opportunities for redundant staff.

ASC expressed similar sentiments when it “reluctantly” shed 93 workers in August, after conducting a similar “rigorous process”.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has been told 43 electricians, 11 mechanical fitters and two pipefitters will be cut from the workforce in the latest round of redundancies.

In a statement distributed this morning, ASC said that it had “become necessary for ASC Shipbuilding to further reduce the shipbuilding workforce to reflect operational demand, and ensure the continued meeting of project budgets and schedules”.

A consultation process with the workforce will now begin, “ahead of the possible redundancy of up to 63 permanent positions, including 56 production employees and a further seven salaried positions”.

Workers will be offered voluntary redundancy packages.

The company said the reduced demand was due to the departure of the second of three Air Warfare Destroyers, Brisbane, and the fact that the construction, testing and activation of the third, Sydney, was “progressing well”.

According to ASC, the number of employees to be cut may be reduced if it can identify more redeployment opportunities for affected employees.

Staff will receive a briefing on the changes today and support from the company’s employee assistance program and career transition centre.

AMWU assistant national secretary Glenn Thompson said Defence Minister Christopher Pyne had failed to secure the workforce needed for Australia’s future shipbuilding programs.

He said Premier Steven Marshall was “missing in action” on the issue.

“When will Christopher Pyne understand that unless there is a trained and skilled workforce in place, the future building programs for frigates and submarines will be badly impacted?” said Thompson.

“The Liberals have taken their eyes off the ball and concentrated on killing off a Prime Minister and tearing themselves apart instead of paying attention to the strategic needs of the shipbuilding sector.”

He said the Federal Government should now bring forward construction of the planned Sea 2400 hydrographic vessel, in order to maintain the skilled workforce.

“These are crucial shipbuilding programs which will need the core workforce at ASC in order to ramp up training for the future builds due to start soon,” he said.

“The Federal Government needs to step in and ensure the transition of the existing skills into the already identified supply chain by BAE and Naval Group for the frigate and submarine contracts.”

ASC added that staff that will lose their jobs may be able to return to work for the company when the Hunter Class Frigate Program begins prototyping in 2020.

ASC Shipbuilding will act as a subsidiary of BAE Systems to deliver that project.

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