The closure of Caltex’s refining facility at Kurnell would result in at least 500 Sutherland Shire workers out of a job, Australian Workers Union delegate Graeme Grace said today.
Caltex announced this morning that the facility would be closed by 2014 and turned into an import hub.
Speaking at a packed press conference outside the refinery this afternoon, Mr Grace, a refinery operator at the facility for 22 years, told the Leader that the planned closure was a disaster for the shire.
‘‘It’s going to devastate the shire,’’ Mr Grace said. ‘‘Most of the workers here are from the shire, particularly the outer suburbs such as Engadine. I would say about 500 of the 700 here are from the shire.’’
He said at least 50 of the 235 contractors used by the facility were based at Kurnell.
Caltex managing director Julian Segal announced the closure this morning, claiming the refinery was just too old to compete with more modern facilities in Asia.
He said the closure would result in 330 people losing their jobs at Kurnell as staffing levels were reduced from the current level of 430 to 100 over the next two years.
However, that figure was challenged by AWU secretary Paul Howes who said the real number of workers who would no longer have a job was closer to 800.
Mr Howes said that despite Caltex’s promise to consult workers about the future of the refinery, employees who arrived on site this morning were given letters telling them the refinery was shutting down.
‘‘It’s an outrageous decision,’’ Mr Howes said.
State Cronulla MP Mark Speakman described the closure as ‘a huge blow’’ to employees, acknowledging many of them lived in his electorate.
‘‘I would like programs to start straight away to assist affected employees, local communities and small business suppliers,’’ Mr Speakman said.
The closure announcement comes on the heels of a review into the company’s refining facilities which began last August. The company said the closure was expected to cost about $430 million in employment benefits and refinery dismantling and clean-up costs.
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