Queensland Nickel to strip 237 jobs

Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel has joined the trend of contractionary restructuring, with an announcement the company will cut 237 workers from the ranks.

The move follows speculation the company will suffer around $400 million in losses on nickel this year.

Queensland Nickel managing director Clive Mensink voiced his disappointment with the government  for being unwilling to assist the company.

"The Queensland Government has made it clear despite the nickel price being the lowest in 15 years it has no interest in assisting Queensland Nickle [sic] in providing continued employment for over 800 families in Townsville,” he said.

"This stands in contrast to the $40 million-a-year cheque the Queensland Treasury writes each year to a multinational group for their Gladstone operations.

"Because of the current nickel price and because of the failure of our own government to offer any support for our company’s continued operations in Townsville, today Queensland Nickel has been forced to make 237 workers redundant.”

Mensink said the company had requested a $30 million guarantee to support company borrowings, and implied the request had been denied on political grounds, with the Premier and state Labor members refusing to meet with Queensland Nickel for discussion.

"Since BHP announced the closure of Queensland Nickel six years ago we fought hard to keep Townsville going,” he said.

“Clive Palmer only supported Queensland Nickel and Townsville because of the request of former Labor Premier Anna Bligh. It is ironic that her Labor successor’s lack of compassion and caring for Townsville families has directly cost 237 jobs in Townsville.

Mensink thanked those soon to be affected by the redundancies for their service to the company.

“We will not forget you however we must now concentrate on doing all that we can in future to continue our operations in Townsville,” Mensink said.

Last year Palmer voiced fears the company would have to shed 776 workers after he lost a court bid to force his estranged Sino Iron business partner CITIC to provide US$48 million in ‘unpaid royalties’ relating to the West Australian Sino Iron ore project.

At the time CITIC stated that Palmer had more funds than he was willing to admit, and he could support the continued operation of the nickel refinery, with its lawyer saying it defied belief that Yabulu would go under unless money was immediately handed over.

The Queensland Nickel cutbacks follow a trend in the nickel industry, as recently Poseidon CEO David Singleton said he would step down from his position at the company, not to be replaced.

Following Singleton’s announcement the company declared its intention to 'reorganise' to ensure the miner “maintains momentum whilst reducing costs further during this period of low nickel prices”.

“Until the nickel price improves the company will not recruit a replacement CEO,” Poseidon said.

Non-executive chairman Chris Indermaur will take on the CEO duties on a part time basis, and will be paid in performance rights rather than money, as are all non-executive directors at the company.

Executives and board members at the company have agreed to take a 20 per cent pay cut.

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