ETU members at Bluescope Steel in the Illawarra have today learned their fate as the Bluescope Board announced that they will continue to produce Australian Steel by keeping the plant open after working with employees to secure savings.
The Board also announced that the company was successful in securing payroll tax concessions which would see the deferment of payroll tax payments meaning the Port Kembla Steel Works would remain open.
ETU Assistant Secretary Dave McKinley, who has been directly involved with the BlueScope matter, said that this was a bitter sweet win for ETU members who have today secured their jobs for the immediate future.
“Make no mistake the only reason Bluescope Steel will be open for business tomorrow is because of the selfless actions of the hard working and committed employee’s.” said Dave.
“ETU members were among thousands of workers who selflessly gave up hard fought conditions with the hope of a secure job at the end of it all.”
“Today is a victory for workers at Port Kembla, albeit a bitter sweet one.” Dave said.
Prior to the completion of EBA negotiations earlier this year Bluescope announced the future of steel making at Port Kembla would be under review.
Bluescope management stated that the board had demanded $200 million in savings or they would close steel making at Port Kembla. This would see the importation of Hot Rolled Coil used for production at the Springhill plant.
The combined unions understood that this was no idle threat and that the closure of steel making would amount to thousands of jobs lost in the region with only the Springhill plant left operating
As a result and following discussions with members, the combined unions agreed to withdraw applications for protected industrial action and enter into meaningful discussions on ways to keep the steel works open.
It was agreed to enter into negotiations mediated by Deputy President Hatcher of the Fair Work Commission and overseen by President Ross. Over the following eight weeks the combined unions negotiated with management over savings that would keep steel production open and save thousands of jobs.
This culminated in the unions taking a recommendation to members who voted to accept a wide range of changes to their working conditions including over 200 redundancies amongst wages employees and over 170 redundancies of salaried employees.
With this guarantee the Unions will be taking the new EBA to a vote next Thursday 5th November.