Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union


Correction on misreporting of a ‘deal’ with Whyalla Steelworks

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) is seeking to correct allegations made across various media outlets around the circumstances surrounding the shutdown at Whyalla Steelworks.

In April, Whyalla Steelworks informed staff that they were considering running the furnace to reduced output a process that has resulted in the furnace falling below its operational temperature, allowing iron to solidify inside the majority of the unit’s tuyeres (heat generators) and rendering it unusable at the present time.

Before this decision was taken, union members, many of whom have decades of experience in furnace operation, raised concerns with management about the risks to the furnace’s operational capacity should this course of action be taken. Despite raising these concerns, management proceeded to cool the furnace, rendering the site non-operational.

As a result of the cooled furnace, management at Whyalla Steelworks reduced the hours of workers at the site, with wages now reduced by around 30%. This decision was made by management, with no “deal” struck with the AWMU. Naturally the AMWU is aggrieved by the misreporting around a non-existent agreement, given the AMWU has been seeking Whyalla Steelworks’ management minimise the impact on workers’ hours and wages as much as possible.

The shutdown has caused significant blockages within the furnace’s tuyeres, which highly skilled union workers including AMWU members are urgently locating and repairing in order to recover the furnace and restore it to its full production capacity. It is the AMWU’s expectation that Whyalla Steelworks management will do everything in their power to assist their staff in the recovery of the furnace, and restore the hours and wages of their employees as quickly as possible.

Quotes attributable to AMWU SA State Secretary Peter Bauer:

There was no arrangement with AMWU and Whyalla Steelworks management over reducing workers’ hours. The union has done everything in its power to minimise the effect of this decision by the company.”

“We’re seeking a correction on air and online from the Australian Radio Network, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and other media outlets that have been misreporting on the existence of a deal.

Media contact: Sonia Feng 0478 599 580

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