JOBS VALLEY OF DEATH STILL AT ASC

Some major problems still at ASC. NEWS IN THAT TODAY ASC SACKED 200 JOBS.

Promised jobs ship building still a long way off.

Shipbuilder ASC to shed up to 223 jobs despite Government declarations against 'valley of death'
By political reporter Nick Harmsen (ABC ADELAIDE)

Government-owned shipbuilder ASC is poised to shed up to 223 jobs from its Adelaide shipyard by June, despite declarations from the Federal Government that the so-called naval shipbuilding "valley of death" is over.

Key points:

* The decision is expected to take effect within six weeks
* The AMWU says Christopher Pyne has broken a promise of ongoing work
* Mr Pyne is blaming a lull in shipbuilding under Labor
* The taxpayer-owned company today advised workers that 197 blue collar and 26 white collar staff were surplus to requirements.

In a written statement, the company said both voluntary and forced redundancies would be offered.

"Planned workforce reductions on the Air Warfare Destroyer program are now required to ensure the workforce profile meets operational requirements as the project nears completion," the statement said.

"The company anticipates that the number of people required to leave the business will be reduced due to transfer opportunities to ASC's submarine's business.

"Today's announcement starts a minimum six-week consultation process with the permanent workforce."

The announcement is the latest in a long line of job cuts unveiled by ASC as work on the Air Warfare Destroyer program dries up.

The second of the three destroyers constructed for the navy, Brisbane, is now in the water, while work is continuing apace on the third ship, Sydney.

Last year, ASC was awarded work to construct the first two of 12 offshore patrol vessels for the navy, in part to keep Adelaide's naval shipbuilding workforce occupied until work can start on a fleet of future submarines and frigates.

But construction of the OPVs ships is not expected to begin until the end of this year at the earliest.

The company is also hopeful of winning work on the future frigate program.

The Federal Government is expected to decide on competing bids from international shipbuilding rivals BAE, Fincantieri and Navantia in coming months.

In October, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said "the valley of death is over and we are now seeing an upturn in employment".

Signing a deal with construction company Lendlease to expand the Osborne shipyard, Mr Pyne suggested shipbuilding workers being laid off because of the end of the Air Warfare Destroyer program could take one of the 600 jobs required to build the new yard to accommodate the submarine, OPV and frigate work.

The AMWU said Mr Pyne's comments now rang hollow.

"Minister Pyne looked shipbuilders in the eye and promised them that the work and their jobs were now secure," said AMWU National Assistant Secretary Glenn Thompson.

"This promise has been broken. He's tossed workers aside."
But Mr Pyne hit back, blaming a decline in shipbuilding under Labor for the current situation.

"The slowdown of work for the ASC is the direct result of Labor's failure to commission a single vessel from an Australian yard," he said.

"This inaction has impacted on the stability of shipbuilding jobs as well as the capability of our navy."

ASC currently employs about 1,000 full-time workers, down from a peak of 1,800 three years ago.

In December, Mr Pyne released a joint statement saying the Turnbull Government had given ASC's workers at Osborne an "early Christmas present" by bolstering jobs.

"We are stabilising the shipbuilding workforce. With the Future Frigates decision to be made early next year and further workforce decisions made as required, things are truly on the up at Osborne," Mr Pyne had said.

Assistant state secretary Peter Bauer said Mr Pyne should now explain today's job loss announcement, in light of that remark.

"How come that statement was made and today we had 197 workers told they're going to be leaving?
"They shouldn't make those statements if they can't commit to them."

Mr Bauer said the ASC had met with Mr Pyne and had secured assurances that workers would be shifted to other projects, and said the jobs losses could take effect within six weeks.

"Somebody needs to make sure that no further job losses occur and that we try to retain the jobs [losses] that have been announced today. It's not good enough to say that these are inevitable."

Pipe fitter Brett Scheichl said the reaction among workers was "pretty morbid".

"Moving interstate and overseas is [now] an option," he said.

Mr Pyne said the Government was now "taking action to retain as many ASC employees as possible in a number of ways", including scholarships to help workers develop new skills.

"Will there be people who lose their jobs in the short term? There will be," he said.

"[But] this Government has bridged the valley of death. Under the previous government, there were no strategies in place — none — to employ their people.

"If a worker decides to go overseas or interstate, it's a free market, they're entitled to do so. But the reason the Government has put these projects in place is to give them an opportunity to work in ship building and submarine building over the next many decades."