Queensland’s premier is disappointed about BP’s Brisbane plant closure, but has stopped short of offering government assistance to workers.
Workers at BP’s Brisbane refinery seem unlikely to get state government help finding new jobs.
The oil giant says it will halt operations at its Bulwer Island plant by mid-2015, with 355 jobs likely to go.
Premier Campbell Newman says he’s disappointed, but has stopped short of offering government assistance to sacked workers.
“My thoughts are with the 300 or so employees and their families,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
“I call on them (BP) to properly look after the 300 employees and their families in terms of transitioning to other jobs.”
Mr Newman’s office later declined to say whether the state would chip in for re-training BP staff.
Australian Workers Union state secretary Ben Swan said the announcement was out of the blue and without consultation.
“For workers to learn that their world has been tipped upside down is a devastating blow,” Mr Swan, who’s heading to the refinery to speak to workers, told AAP.
He said it would be difficult for workers to find new jobs and both state and federal governments needed to help them.
Mr Swan said he couldn’t say exactly what assistance was needed until he’d spoken with those affected later on Wednesday.
He added that governments don’t have a plan in place to protect jobs in the manufacturing industry.
“Companies are leaving this country in droves and very little is being done to retain that capacity,” Mr Swan said.
Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams said the declining manufacturing industry was already flooded with skilled workers.
“The state is going through some tough times,” he told AAP.
“This just adds to the pessimistic view about whether we can have a modern economy which includes a significant manufacturing sector.”
Mr Newman told parliament that BP was committed to supporting its workers through transitional support and job placement assistance.
“BP is a large global company, they are a multinational,” he said.
“They have very significant financial resources and scope of operations to look after their people.
“I, as the leader of this state, accept that BP will meet all its obligations.”
With Queensland’s unemployment rate sitting at about six per cent, Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt questioned where the workers would go.
“The response by the premier, essentially being dismissive and `The government has no role to play’, is absolutely abhorrent,” he said.
“State governments have always had a role to play when you see large job losses at a particular firm.
“They know that is about having the support there for future employment prospects.”