Workers a victim of Smelter's 'risky business': leaders react
IN THE aftermath of Boyne Smelter's anticipated announcement that jobs would be cut and production slashed, Gladstone's leaders have reaction.
News of the job losses has sent shockwaves across Queensland, with bosses of power companies and other alumina producers, and political leaders all weighing in.
Although Boyne Smelter is yet to disclose exact figures for jobs losses, Australian Workers Union (AWU) organiser Zac Beers believes, based on discussions with workers, that between 100-150 could lose their job.
This is how our leaders have responded to the tough news:
Glenn Butcher, Member for Gladstone:
THE decision to cut back production and lay off staff at BSL is a heartbreaking one. They blamed wholesale electricity prices for this decision. That's wrong. BSL is managed by Pacific Aluminium which in turn is wholly owned by Rio Tinto Ltd. What we see here is a large multi-national enterprise allowing its risky business decisions to impact on its workers. The number of jobs that may be lost is not yet known, but I will continue to advocate for the workers at BSL and work towards a solution that can see the smelter re-establish its base load alumina production.
Ken O'Dowd, Member for Flynn:
THIS is the devastating news we've seen coming for some time. My heart breaks for the workers, their families, and BSL management, this is not a decision anyone takes joy in. It would appear both BSL and Queensland's energy generators have tried tirelessly to negotiate a deal for supply but unfortunately despite these efforts, we have arrived at this unenviable position. Boyne Smelters is not the only business struggling under the pressure of electricity costs and unless the State Government can overhaul the way electricity is supplied and charged, more announcements like this are inevitable. While this represents an uncertain time for employees, I'm sure Joe Rea and his team will put in a huge effort to minimise the negative impacts for his workers.
Matt Burnett, Gladstone region Mayor:
FROM my point of view we need the State Government, Federal Government and BSL to come to an agreement to ensure we don't see any further job losses in the Gladstone region. With significant job losses at both Rio Tinto Yarwun and QAL following on from the completion of the LNG construction phase, our community cannot take any more hits. The flow on effects to the local economy will be huge. We need an agreement that secures a fair and reasonable price for electricity that ensures the viability of both the aluminium and alumina industry for Gladstone for the long term.
Matt Canavan, Queensland Liberal National Party Senator:
IT'S heartbreaking that a significant number of jobs will be lost. All job losses have a ripple effect on families and communities, and even though Gladstone is a resilient town, the times ahead will be tough. We want to ensure that regions like Gladstone are strong and vibrant with good long-term job prospects. But the simple truth is that the industries that create jobs in our regions need affordable and reliable electricity. Australia has the basis for a manufacturing sector and long-term jobs. We are one of the world's largest coal exporters. That coal can also power jobs in Queensland. The warning signs can't be ignored any longer. BSL was cutting production in January due to huge electricty price spikes.
AS IT HAPPENED | See how the Smelter's power crisis unfolded