UPDATE: 65 QAL workers given redundancies
What we know:
- 65 workers were given voluntry or forced redundancies
- The redundancies are due to the lowest alumina price in 25 years
- Rio Tinto announced the plant was running at a loss in December
A QUEENSLAND Alumina Limited worker had to go home today and tell his wife he had been made redundant and they might have to sell their home.
He was one of about 65 QAL operational workers given voluntary and forced redundancies as the cost cutting measures continued today at Gladstone's oldest running industrial plant.
The total number of QAL staff made redundant is now believed to be about 140 since February 16.
"It's pretty hard to take when other blokes asked for it," the sacked worker said.
He didn't want to be named to ensure he would still receive his redundancy payout.
"The way they have gone about it is pretty disgusting," he said.
"It was just fast and furious."
On March 9 general manager Mike Dunstan announced to workers "(QAL) had hoped time was on (its) side to achieve reductions through natural attrition but QAL is a business in distress and (it) must act quickly".
The alumina refinery has been under pressure to cut costs with the aluminium price sitting at a 25-year-low.
The low price, due to an over supply in alumina in the international market place, has forced owner Rio Tinto to reduce its inventory of alumina and bauxite, retender contracts, cut 60-80 administration staff on February 16 and now these latest rounds of redundancies.
"We are working to reduce costs to make QAL more competitive in the challenging market conditions facing the alumina industry," the QAL spokesperson said.
"Our focus is on providing all the support we reasonably can to the people who are affected," a QAL spokesperson said today.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser Phil Golby said injured workers were worse off.
"There were workers dismissed today who were injured at work," he said.
He said by giving them redundancies before they were able to prove they were fit for work made finding a new job almost impossible.
He said the redundancies followed the workers' enterprise bargaining agreement, but with fewer workers on site safety was a concern.
"Concerns are coming out of the boiler house," he said.
"Work needs to be done to make the boiler house safe," he said.
"There aren't the correct tags on the right switches, and the (lack of) lighting is a safety concern.
"Some issues that have been brought forward have been on the system for two years."
QAL general manager Mike Dunstan denied the claims the redundancies would affect the plant's safety.
"Safety, stability and reliability are the three underlying principles of our new organisational design," he said.
"I am confident our new structure is the right one to take us forward."
But the worker who took home his pink slip today believed the restructuring had not finished.
"The feeling in the place with the workers is there are more (redundancies) to come," he said.
"Now I've got to go home and tell my wife and kids we might have to sell our home."
How the job cuts unfolded:
QUEENSLAND Alumina Limited workers have been given their fate this morning after being told 11 days ago there would be redundancies at the plant.
The workers were told on March 9 there would be redundancies and some workers put up their hand to be made redundant.
But some workers have told The Observer that some job losses were forced.
"Today a number of employees were notified that their roles have been made redundant," a QAL spokesperson said.
"Our focus is on providing all the support we reasonably can to the people who are affected."
One worker believed the number was more than 70 which was AMWU's Phil Golby's prediction on March 9.
This is the second lot of redundancies at QAL after 60-80 administration and support staff were given redundancies on February 16.
"We are working to reduce costs to make QAL more competitive in the challenging market conditions facing the aluminium industry," the QAL spokesperson said.
QAL has been under pressure after Rio Tinto announced in December the plant was running at a loss.
This was due to the lowest alumina price in 25 years.