Labor’s federal Illawarra MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, have called for immediate Federal Government action to assist the region following BlueScope’s announcement that up to 500 jobs could be axed from the Port Kembla Steelworks.
CEO Paul O’Malley has also today warned that the steelworks could close permanently if the company cannot find $200 million in annual cost savings over the next two years.
“Steel is a critical industry to the country and to the Illawarra,” said Throsby MP Stephen Jones.
“We must have a plan to ensure that we retain our steelmaking capacity and this will require government, business and unions working closely together.
“In the event there are job losses at Port Kembla Steelworks then we must provide support to the workers and their families.”
Cunningham MP Sharon Bird said that Labor had set a strong example in previous years when it came to responding to local job losses.
“In 2011 Labor put in place a package to support workers, businesses and industry through the difficult transition and I believe that a similar approach is needed today.
“Earlier this month, Stephen Jones and I wrote to Minister Abetz calling on him to immediately reinstate the Illawarra Local Employment Coordinator - this needs to occur immediately. Local workers who are being retrenched need support to help them find other work or undertake training to find a new job.
“Also, as occurred under Labor in 2011, the Government should move to ensure structural adjustment assistance is offered via jobactive.
“These measures will help ensure that workers who lose their jobs receive a greater level of help and advice when it comes to seeking new employment or updating their skills.
“What the Illawarra needs is a government focussed on Illawarra jobs, not their own jobs.”
Labor has a strong track record in working with the steel industry, including the implementation of the Steel Industry Plan in 1983 and the Steel Transformation Plan in 2011.