The dogwatch shift at Hydro Aluminium’s Kurri Kurri smelter is in for a longer night than usual as news spreads of job losses.
Norsk Hydro announced it would curtail its Australian operations by mothballing the Kurri Kurri plant this morning, having succumbed to the high Australian dollar.
Beresfield’s Darren Dunning will start dogwatch at 7pm and wasn’t lookingnforward to it.
“It’s not going to be a fun shift,” he said. “We’ll just do what we have to do to get through it.”
Level four mechanical tradesman and Rutherford resident Rick Merrick said he remained hopeful of finding employment after 31 years in the job but wasn’t looking forward to going back in either.
“My concerns are for the guys that I work with in the next few hours and days when it really sinks in,” the union delegate said. “It’s coming to grips with not seeing someone you’ve worked with for 25 years - nine and 10 hours a day – its more time with them than your own family.
Mr Merrick started as a 15-year-old fitter-turner apprentice progressing to various working in several different roles including workshop manager.
“I’ve worked there for two-thirds of my life with most of the same guys,” the union delegate said. “The scariest bit is that it has been the only place I’ve worked and while I’ve done various roles I’ve got know idea what other workplaces are like.
“I started making some enquiries after the January announcement but now its
official I can apply for jobs with a firm idea of when I can start.”
Just if he can land a job that is conducive to volunteering with his boy’s AFL club is a concern.
“I’m hoping something good will fall my way but whether I will be able to continue helping out at Maitland Saints as groundsmen, I don’t know, this job has given me that flexibility,” he said. “I hope to find something soon I do have a mortgage.”
Mr Dunning, 29, is looking to the mines for a financial lifeline.
“My fiancé and I have mortgage so I don’t know how long we can survive without that income,” he said. “I thought this might be a job I retired in when I took it five years ago.
“Things we’re booming when I started there. There was talk of a fourth pot line but when that fell over the dream slipped away.”
Another worker of five years Brad Knight, of Tingara Heights, estimated the payout would last him nine months.
At home are his six-month-old daughter Ruby and his wife, off on maternity leave.
“I’m probably one of the lucky ones some of the blokes, their wives might have to find work,” he said. “It’s devastating for the area and it’s not just 300 jobs it’s a lot more when you consider we’re buying fuel, pies and milkshakes here.
“They’re talking about a knock-on effect of three jobs for every one lost here.”