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Mulwala jobs in limbo

Uncertainty over the ongoing operation of the Mulwala ammunitions facility continues to grow, with July 27 considered by unions to be “critical” in terms of job security for more than 300 employees.

RACHEAL WILLETT July 8, 2014 3:39pm

Tender negotiations for the Domestic Munitions Manufacturing Arrangements Project (DMMA) remain indefinitely suspended, leaving successor arrangements come June 2015 in limbo.

The original timetable called for a decision to be made on a successful tender late this year.

Mass meetings were held onsite in Mulwala and Benalla at the end of June, bringing together members from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Electrical Trade Union, Australian Workers Union, Professionals Australia and the National Union of Workers.

AMWU North East Victoria Regional Organiser Dave Corben said members were becoming “increasingly concerned” about the ongoing uncertainty.

Mr Corben said July 27 was a critical date for the ordering of materials to continue production at both sites.

He said the members were waiting to see whether that ordering would be done as scheduled and, if it was not, concern about the ongoing operations at both sites would be heightened significantly.

“Until the end of the month we will be waiting to hopefully get some good news,” Mr Corben said. “Seven hundred jobs, families and several communities rely on these two manufacturing facilities remaining productive and that is what we want to see happen.”

 A Department of Defence spokesperson told the Yarrawonga Chronicle the DMMA negotiations had been suspending “pending consideration of the project by Government”.

The spokesperson said the department and Thales Australia Limited were working collaboratively to address a number of aspects not clearly defined in the arrangements – the spokesperson denied there was a dispute between the parties.

“The Department of Defence is developing contingency plans to enable ongoing operation of the facilities beyond 2015,” the spokesperson said.

Australian Munitions, which is part of Thales Australia, issued a statement to the Yarrawonga Chronicle on the DMMA dely.

“We are continuing to work closely with the Defence Materiel Organisation, and are discussing in detail plans for the future safe and continuous operation of the Benalla and Mulwala facilities,” the spokesperson said.

“This involves many complexities in what is an area of strategic industrial importance.

“We are acutely aware that our valued employees at the two sites, and indeed the wider community, are anxious to understand what the future holds as soon as possible, and we are doing everything we can to urgently move things forward.

“We have invested significantly in the sites, as has the Commonwealth, and are eager to continue growing our business and providing support to the Australian Defence Force.

“We remain on standby to assist the DMO and its contractors – Lend Lease and ATK – to finalise delivery of the modernised plant under the Mulwala Redevelopment Project, which has been the key factor in the uncertainty regarding the future of Benalla and Mulwala.”

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