The South Australian Branch of the Australian Shipbuilding Federation of Unions (ASFU) has blasted the Federal Government for its proposal to move the sustainment of the Collins Class submarines from South Australia to Western Australia.
“We are concerned the Defence Minister is under pressure to play favourites with Australian shipbuilding jobs, backing in her home state at the expense of South Australia and South Australian jobs,” said Peter Bauer, ASFU SA convener.
“It makes no sense to shift the sustainment work from South Australia when the infrastructure and the skilled workers are here in Adelaide. There is no guarantee that these skilled workers would move to Western Australia. It could cost taxpayers millions of dollars to train up more skilled workers in Western Australia, all while shipbuilders here in South Australia are out of a job,” Mr Bauer said.
The ASFU SA Branch estimates that 700 workers directly employed on the sustainment project would lose their jobs if the work was shifted to Western Australia. Thousands of other workers and businesses operating in the supply chain in South Australia also stand to be affected.
“Losing the sustainment work would be a huge blow for the South Australian economy which is just starting to get back on its feet after the closure of Holden.”
The Future Submarine and Future Frigate builds will be done in South Australia, but there will be a serious challenge if the workers currently employed in the industry lose their jobs. These skilled and experienced workers are required to ensure the projects have the best start to ensure no delays, cost blow-outs, or other problems for these multi billion-dollar projects.
“Once workers leave the industry, they tend not to return. A continuous pipeline of work is needed to avoid another valley of death prior to the submarine build. The sustainment work is critical in ensuring we have the skilled workers here in South Australia to deliver these projects. It just makes sense to keep this work here in South Australia.”
“It’s time for the Federal Government to stop playing games with South Australian jobs. These are real families trying to survive and they should not be used as a political football just so Federal politicians can shore up their election chances. Mr Marshall and his federal Liberal colleagues need to stand up and fight for South Australian workers. These jobs are crucial for our state, we can’t afford to lose them at a Minister’s whim.”