Sandvik Mining management met with Australian Workers Union officials on Thursday to discuss 36 redundancies at its Heatherbrae site.
AWU Newcastle branch assistant secretary John Boyd told the Mercury the union had been informed of the company’s decision on Wednesday.
The Swedish engineering company expanded its operations at the site in March this year, when it opened a $50 million factory.
After the meeting Mr Boyd revealed the company had decided to axe 36 blue collar jobs.
“They’ve made 36 employees redundant and called for expressions of interest from the employees site-wide and we’re hoping they will get 36 volunteers so that no one will be forcibly retrenched,” he said. “Five white-collar employees were made redundant [on Wednesday] and there is a possibility of another eight employees coming out of the warehouse.”
These were in addition to the 36 blue-collar redundancies.
“Presently, the site employs about 250 to 300 blue collar workers who are employed as plant mechanics, boiler makers, fitters, machinists, other trades people, trade assistants, there’s storemen ... there’s a whole range [of job types],” Mr Boyd said.
The company issued a press release on Wednesday that said weaker demand during the third quarter of the year had persisted into the fourth quarter and that cuts were needed for the company’s survival into the future.
“A reduction of 650 employees globally has been deemed necessary, including the closure of the units in North Bay, Canada and Rocklea, Australia,” Sandvik said in the media release.
Mr Boyd said Sandvik Mining was not the only company in the Hunter making redundancies.
“It’s going on everywhere at the moment,” he said. “There have been guys been lost at Sebelco in Sandgate and Convatech in Newcastle.
Mr Boyd said the numbers were not huge. “But they are all jobs and Christmas is not a good time for it to happen to anyone,” he said.
Expressions of interest for voluntary redundancy have a deadline of 3pm Monday.
“It’s a process the company wants to go through quickly and the guys will know if they want to go or not,” Mr Boyd said. “If they don’t get the numbers the company will have to look at skill-matching the roles they have identified to be made redundant and they will just select some people that way I should imagine.”
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