Written by Workforce NSW editor Stephanie D’Souza.
The Senate on Tuesday (August 18) passed NSW Greens Lee Rhiannon’s motion to call on the Federal Government to “intervene in the fate of BlueScope to save the steel industry in Port Kembla and 10,000 jobs”. Rhiannon said the Federal Govt needed to “urgently engage with this issue” and not leave the future of Port Kembla steelworks to BlueScope Steel. Rhiannon blasted BlueScope, saying it was “prepared to sacrifice the strategic and economic importance of the blast furnace to fatten up its profits”. The motion said more than 10,000 jobs were “directly dependent on” BlueScope’s Port Kembla operations and called on the Fed Govt to consult with unions, the company and the NSW Govt about saving the industry. The Senate noted the South Coast Labour Council and Australian Workers’ Union “New Steel Deal” proposal, which includes “a public procurement framework mandating at least 50% of Australian made steel in all federal and state infrastructure projects”. Greens employment spokesperson Adam Bandt MP said “Tony Abbott and the govt say they’re all about ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’… Abbott and the govt must listen to the Senate and protect the jobs of over 10,000 people”. A spokesperson for industry minister Ian Macfarlane said the govt will await BlueScope’s ASX financial statement (slated for Aug 24) and for BlueScope CEO Paul O’Malley to set out the company’s direction. “The Minister will meet key stakeholders in the Illawarra to further discuss this matter as soon as possible after BlueScope’s statement to the market,” the spokesperson said. “Despite Senator Rhiannon’s recent comments in the Senate, it remains the policy of the Greens to phase out the coal industry in NSW, despite the fact that coal is vital for local steelmaking.”
(This story first ran in Workforce NSW August 21, 2015)
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