Research by the Australian Workers Union suggests that 500,000 Australian jobs could be lost from the iron and steel industry if the Federal Government does not implement a nation-wide support plan.
According to the AWU, consultation is needed between the Government and steel and iron employers if a major collapse in forward orders is to be avoided.
The Union has released a 10-point plan that calls for steel to be declared a strategic industry, thereby encouraging the Federal Government to consider production bounties and the use of specialised steel infrastructure bonds to boost investment.
The AWU national secretary Paul Howes told journalists that Australia’s steel industry should be using local iron ore resources in order to uphold best practice steelmaking standards and a highly skilled and qualified labour force.
“The impact of the global crisis has triggered a rapid slowing in forward orders for steel, despite the best efforts of employers, and workers alike in maintaining production and profitability,” he said.
“If Australia fails to back this industry we will see a huge impact on regional Australia, including places like Port Kembla, Whyalla, Newcastle and Westernport.
“The implications for our sector are clear. Stay and fight (with the assistance of government policy where possible) or stand aside, and relinquish our position as a significant steel producer and exporter; turning instead to imports to supply the domestic market.”
The union is currently rallying federal Labour MPs and senators to support the 10-point plan.