Redundancies begin at BAE Systems in Williamstown, union claims



STAFF sackings at the Williamstown naval shipyards have started with about five workers made redundant, a union representative claims.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union delegate Leon White said it came after staff members were told a decision would be made about the future of the 1100 strong workforce at BAE Systems in March.

“They have let go of about five staff members last week,” Mr White said.

“They had a meeting with us a couple of weeks ago where they said redundancies will start happening around March. But it has already started happening.”

Mr White, who is a boilermaker at the yard, said there was a lot of uncertainty about the staff’s future.

“The Government needs to do everything to save jobs,” he said.

However, BAE Systems spokesman Simon Latimer would not confirm the sacking or if the claimed redundancies were the start of a larger culling.

“I am not going to comment on employee numbers,” Mr Latimer said.

“We have peaks and troughs in our workforce depending upon what work there is in the shipyards.

“We have just completed the first Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD). We have a second LHD to complete this year and we have to match our employee numbers to our employment profile,” he said.

Mr Latimer said they were in talks with the Federal Government about securing more work.

“We are still engaging with the Government and hopeful of working out some sort of arrangement there that will lead to some long-term work for the Williamstown shipyards,” he said.

But when asked about allocating more work to the shipyards, Cristy Elliott, a spokeswoman for Federal Defence Minister Kevin Andrews did not give any specific details.

However, she said the Government was committed to investing in a safe and secure Australia.

“Announcements about specific programs will be made in due course,” Ms Elliott said.

Gellibrand MP Tim Watts said he called on the Federal Government to take urgent action to secure the future of more than 1000 jobs.

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