Dedicated QAL worker shown door after more than 18 years

TONY Davis felt like a lamb to the slaughter when he and his workmates were called to a meeting room at Queensland Alumina Limited; from there they were walked 200m one by one into an office.

Tony was one of a number of 'support staff' workers at QAL told this week they were out of a job.

>> BREAKING: Workers axed as alumina price plummets to 25-year low

The low global price for alumina finally forced the hand of the company, which axed as many as 80 workers on Tuesday, according to unions, from its Parsons Point refinery.

Tony managed contractors on site at QAL; he'd worked his way up after starting as a descaler there more than 18 years ago.

Tony Davis was one of many who fell on the sword of QAL's decision to axe workers on Tuesday. Photo Campbell Gellie / The Observer
Tony Davis was one of many who fell on the sword of QAL's decision to axe workers on Tuesday. Photo Campbell Gellie / The Observer Campbell Gellie

Yesterday, the 50-year-old had already applied for several jobs, despite knowing it was going to be "slim pickings".

"There were a lot of highly skilled and talented people who walked out yesterday who will be going for the same roles as I am," he said.

"Nobody wants to move away from their homes and families. My wife can't just leave town because she has a job and we don't want to be in a FIFO situation but obviously I will have to look everywhere.

"I guess with the economic situation QAL is in with the alumina price they have to look at what roles are producing alumina and I fell on the sword because I suppose I was in a supportive role."

The price of alumina is at its lowest in 25 years, now about US$205 per tonne; driven down by reduced demand from an oversupplied global market.

Aluminium price falls

US Dollar per tonne


No one in the industry or commentators worldwide are predicting a turnaround anytime soon.

It's forced QAL, which has been operating in Gladstone since 1967, through what management are referring to as a "transformation" of the business.

Tony, who is a former president of the Tannum Sands Surf Lifesaving Club, says he's still very proud to have played a part at QAL.

"They do have a really good training program, they allow people to develop and move their career through the plant," he said. "I think they did look after people really well."

Incidentally, Tony and his wife are going on holiday to China in June.

"(But) I promised everyone I wouldn't buy anything made of aluminium over there," he said. "I won't buy their coke cans and I'll see if I can have a talk to them about producing less aluminium."

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Topics:  alumina industry qal queensland alumina limited

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