(IBTimes) - Victoria's unemployment rate of almost 5.8 per
cent is expected to worsen as hundreds of workers in the
Australian state lose their work.
The latest victims of job axing were drivers of trucking firm
1st Fleet after the beleaguered company sacked 150 workers at its
Sunshine depot on Thursday. Besides making the workers
unemployed, the company - which ceased trading on Wednesday -
also owes them $403,800.
A total of 1,000 workers are affected by the closure, 700 are
full-time employees and 300 are contractors who own or operate
their trucks for 1st Fleet. These truckers are spread in the
firm's depots in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South
However, French finance company Coface, which is a secured
creditor, would be the first to recover money from 1st Fleet, not
the workers. The woes of the drivers are expected to be
replicated in the state as Victorian Transport Association Chief
Executive Phil Lovel warned that other trucking companies in the
state are facing financial woes similar to 1st Fleet and are in
danger of closing in the coming days.
Outside the trucking business, Commonwealth Bank of Australia
said on Thursday night that the lender's mortgage services
processing unit in Melbourne would close and it has informed
about 100 of the affected staff that they would be declared
redundant. Some of the unit's employees would be redeployed in
other departments of CBA.
Tony Sheldon, national secretary of the Transport Workers'
Union, blamed Coles, Woolworths and other large Australian
retailers for the collapse of 1st Fleet by squeezing trucking
company profits with their price war.
"Their market power, and their attack on manufacturers,
farmers and transport operators, is squeezing the life out of
Australian jobs," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Mr
Woolworths said it has no contract with 1s Fleet, while Coles
said it had last used the shuttered company's services more than
five years ago.
Meanwhile, in a manifestation of Australia's three-speed
economy, while hundreds of workers are losing their jobs, the
mining industry needs to hire some foreign workers.
In her regular column at Australian Resources and Investment
magazine, Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart said Hancock
Prospecting needs over 8,000 construction workers for its Roy
Hill iron ore venture at the Pilbara region in Western Australia.
The 8,000 construction workers would not be concentrated in Roy
Hills but will also be deployed in other Australian towns where
Hancock has other ventures.
To offset the use of foreign workers during the construction
phase, Ms Rinehart said her company would offer many training
places to Australians. Once the project would be operational,
Hancock would hire 1,000 permanent employees for at least 20
years. These 1,000 workers would be Australians, Ms Rinehart
said. The planned training would be to prepare them for the jobs
after the construction phase.
However, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union WA
Mining Division Secretary Gary Wood doubted if Ms Rinehart could
fulfill her promise of providing training to local workers.
"It's just cheap foreign labour, exploiting people from other
countries who are vulnerable," AAP quoted Mr Wood.
Ms Rinehart used her column to rant against her pet peeves,
including the mining tax and carbon tax, as well as other
government-imposed measures that add to the cost of doing
business in Australia.
"Things like additional FIFO (fly in, fly out) conditions,
restrictions on overseas guest labour, regulations, approvals,
permits, licences and attached conditions, eliminating the diesel
fuel rebate, insisting on more expensive or inappropriate
Australian content, etcetera, will simply add to Australia's
already high costs of doing business, and less business means
less revenue and fewer sustainable jobs," The Australian quoted
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