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A grim future for Arrium, Ford and Queensland Nickel workers?

Sally Weller writes in The Conversation (8.4.16) about the Arrium mining company’s move into voluntary administration, and the implications for workers at various minerals processing plants around the country, including those at Queensland Nickel in the state’s north.

‘The OECD report Back to Work Australia makes some grim predictions for workers who lose their jobs. That is the potential threat facing some 7,000 Arrium employees, those at Queensland Nickel and Caterpillar in Tasmania, and next year, workers in Ford’s plants in Geelong and Broadmeadows, Victoria.

‘The report was released just before the announcement that mining and materials company Arrium is going into voluntary administration. The company operates the Whyalla Steelworks in South Australia, a state hit hard by the closure of Holden’s vehicle manufacturing plant.

‘The OECD report says Australia faces a high incidence of job loss due to plant downsizing or closure (at 2.3% of the workforce per year). Based on analysis of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, the OECD suggests that 30% of those who lost their jobs in recent years were still unemployed after 12 months and another third had moved into to less well-paid and less secure employment.

‘Surprisingly the OECD sees this as suggesting Australia’s “flexible” labour markets are “rather successful at providing new jobs relatively quickly”. However, HILDA data is unlikely to capture the outcomes of workers in concentrated large-scale closures, so this may underestimate the magnitude of the problem.’

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