Williamstown’s shipyard on Thursday announced another 200 jobs would be cut before Christmas unless it is awarded new work contracts from the federal government.

BAE Systems chief executive Glynn Phillips said a further 150 jobs would be cut in the first quarter of 2016 as work on the air warfare destroyer program neared completion.

“The shipbuilding reductions are necessary because we are a project-based business and our employee numbers must match the needs and status of our ongoing and upcoming projects,” he said.

“Our maritime business remains important and we stand ready to support the Commonwealth government’s continuous shipbuilding strategy.

“We have designs for offshore patrol vessels and frigates that we believe could meet the Royal Australian Navy’s needs under the SEA 1180 and SEA 5000 projects.”

On October 28, the Nuship Adelaide left Williamstown for Sydney after BAE finished work on Australia’s second landing helicopter dock ship.

It may be the last ship to leave the yard.

Federal Gellibrand MP Tim Watts said if the cuts went ahead it would push the number of jobs lost at BAE to more than 1000 since the Liberals gained government.

Marise Payne

MARISE PAYNE. PICTURE: ANDREW MEARES

 

“My first thoughts are with those workers and families that will be affected by this announcement and are faced with a difficult Christmas period,” he said.

“The government was warned that this would happen if they didn’t accelerate future projects and they still sat on their hands and did nothing.

“Australia has had three different defence ministers since the election, and it shows.

“Christopher Pyne has been spruiking the government’s half-baked shipbuilding plan, which was designed to save his job, while he plays the Christmas Grinch in my electorate.”

Valley of death

Defence Minister Marise Payne said the government was disappointed, but stressed it was Labor’s fault.

“While this is ultimately a commercial matter for BAE Systems, the government is disappointed that further job losses are occurring across the shipbuilding industry, but unfortunately this is Labor’s ‘valley of death’ in action,” she said.

“The ‘valley of death’ was caused by Labor’s failure to order a single Australian-built naval ship in its six years in office.

“While it is too late to completely avoid a downturn in naval shipbuilding activity, this government is doing everything it can to reduce the size of the workforce reductions.”

She said the government had brought forward the construction of future frigates by three years and new offshore patrol vessels by two years.

“It is estimated that this government’s decisions will ensure about 800-1000 jobs are retained in surface shipbuilding activities over the next few years that would otherwise have been lost,” Ms Payne said.