Boeing Aerostructures Australia will reduce up to 300 contract positions from its Port Melbourne workforce of about 1,300 by the end of the year.
The workers, all of whom were employed on fixed-term contracts during the ramp up phase of the production of 787 and 777 composite structures, will no longer be required as production of composite components for its commercial aircraft stabilises.
“This was always our intention when the company’s aircraft programs stabilised at full production rates,” Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers told The Age newspaper in a statement. “Reducing employment on these programs is a natural part of the manufacturing cycle. However, we will work to minimise the overall number through natural attrition and by not filling open positions. We will continue to hire for the critical skills to meet our delivery commitments, and are taking steps to make existing contractors full-time employees where possible.”
Union officials have criticised some elements of the media for overreacting to news of the redundancies, and have defended Boeing’s record. “I believe it’s a cyclic part of their operations where they have been setting up their manufacturing plant in Port Melbourne,” Manufacturing Workers Union’s Craig Kelly said. “So it doesn’t appear to be any sort of decline, it doesn’t appear to have an effect on the operations at the Port Melbourne site.”