Redundancies offered at Portland

Written by Paul Adkins

This story comes from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).     there’s some parts of this that don’t make a lot of sense.

On a historical basis, the relationship between the Aussie and US currencies is not sufficient reason to justify layoffs.   At the moment the Aussie is trading at about US$0.91.   But over the years the range has been as low as $0.48 to as high as $0.95.     The smelter itself is enjoying preferential electricity pricing, and with 30 years of operations under its belt, there can’t be a lot of capital charges left to pay.

The article also leaves blank the question of whether further layoffs will occur.   According to the story, the company had discussions with the unions about “all facets of the business.”   They got at least 11 people put up their hands, and apparently have been given payouts.   But after calling for a widespread review of costs, it is hard to imagine they will stop at 11.  

Many of my former workmates left Alcoa’s Point Henry smelter to transfer to the then-new Portland project.   I remember it was billed as a great employment and life-style opportunity, although one enterprising foreman that I worked with saw more lucrative financial returns.   I recall he told everyone he would move to Portland, not to join the construction or operations team, but to buy two local businesses – the taxi service and the local cathouse.   He reckoned that with so many people flooding to the town, those two businesses were set for a major boost.

Here is the story.

Voluntary redundancies have been offered to 11 workers at the Alcoa aluminium smelter in Portland.

The American-owned company is undertaking a restructure to improve its global productivity.

Alcoa spokeswoman Anna Impey says the low US dollar has affected profits.

She says the company received more than 11 expressions of interest for voluntary redundancies.

“The announcement of the offer to give voluntary redundancies follows an extensive consultation process with our employees and the unions, which we started back in April when we announced that a further restructure program involving all facets of the business was taking place to improve profitability and international competitiveness,” she said.

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