300 workers left jobless as UGL abandon Itchys project

The Electrical Trades Union has slammed JKC and UGL for sacking 300 workers on the Inpex Itchys Project and leaving families in limbo prior to the new school year beginning.

On Wednesday morning 300 remaining UGL workers on the Darwin power plant project were told the National Engineering Company had abandoned their contract with JKC, leaving them immediately jobless.

At a midnight meeting of directors a decision was made – without any consultation with the workforce or unions – to abandon the CCPP subcontract on the Inpex Project.

ETU Queensland and NT Acting State Secretary Peter Ong said the subcontractor’s decision to walk away from the project was a disgraceful act which would leave families in jeopardy.

“The majority of these workers are living away from home, have moved their families to Darwin and have kids starting new schools, expecting to see out their contracts to the completion of the project,” Mr Ong said.

“The company has cut their losses without any concern as to what happens to these workers and their families.”

ETU Delegate Mitchell Brown said the workers were absolutely distraught after hearing the news this morning.

“Everyone is in the same position, we’ve just come back having spent money on our families for Christmas and holidays expecting 12 months of work, and we’ve had the rug pulled out from under us,” he said.

“It was totally unexpected. Last year when the last round of sackings occurred upper management sat us down and said the workers that remained would be working until the end of the project. But now we’re out of a job.”

UGL’s decision to walk out follows the company’s $103m net loss last year and the firing of 460 Inpex workers.

Mr Ong said UGL’s walk out had forever damaged their reputation and brand in the construction industry.

“How could any client use UGL in the future knowing they can abandon their obligations halfway through a project?” he said.

He said JKC Australia LNG must accept the blame for the job losses and ensure the workers were reemployed on the project.

“JKC’s decision to accept UGL’s tender on a contract when they were aware it was well under has led to these workers being out of work,” he said.

“They were quite happy to allow UGL to under bid on their contract. The decision to accept that tender created a massive risk to the project and has now put the livelihood of 300 families at risk. JKC must take full responsibility for that.”