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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 1872

Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) - Conscious of the lateness of the hour, I wish to make a short plea in regard to the decision made some time ago by John Lysaght (Australia) Ltd to close the engineering and building product section of the Newcastle works of the Lysaght Brownbuilt Industries Division of the company by the end of the year, which would mean that 600 members of the work force could be unemployed. I would not have raised the matter at this time had the Government been more responsive in the other place yesterday when the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) referred to it. Unfortunately it was argued in the other place by the Minister for Supply, Mr Garland, that this was a matter for the New South Wales Government. My purpose in rising tonight is to make a plea, through Senator Cotton, for the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) to be made aware of the anatomy of these impending mass dismissals so that some action can be taken between now and December.

I wish to make one final and further observation. Next week we will be inundated with talk about industrial relations. I say in all sincerity that on a number of occasions the Minister for Trade and industry, notably in the rolling stock industry, has intervened to stabilise the employment prospects of certain people. In response to a promise I gave to the Government Whip, Senator Young, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a documented history of the dispute in the form of a communication forwarded to me by the Assistant National Secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia, Mr H. P. Hurrell, together with a suitable annexure. If those documents were incorporated in Hansard I am confident that the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Trade and Industry would probe them thoroughly and, I hope, collaborate at a later stage with Mr Charles Jones, other interested people and the unions, including the major union concerned, which is the FIA. I seek leave to have those documents incorporated in Hansard.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -


188 George Street, Sydney 2000 11th May, 1972.

Senator J. A.Mulvihill, Commonwealth Parliament Office, 5 Martin Place, SYDNEY 2000.

Dear Sir,

On 21 3t April, 1972, John Lysaght (Australia) Limited made a press statement announcing that the Engineering and Building Products Sections of the Newcastle .Works of Lysaght Brownbuilt Industries Division of the Company would cease operations by the end of December, 1972, and that between 21st April, 1972, and the end of 1972, some six hundred employees would be affected. (See document marked 'A'.)

Mr W.R. Utteridge, Chief General Manager of .Lysaght Brownbuilt Industries Newcastle piepared a document under the heading of - 1972 Retrenchment - Wages Employees. (See document marked 'B'.)

The document is self-explanatory and the general message is that apart from employees aged 60 years and over who will be granted pension payments on the basis that they would have worked with the Company up to the age of 65 years and the contributions of the employer and interest will be paid by the Company, and that if any employee who remained in the employment of the Company to the date specified for their retrenchment or retirement would be paid an additional $250 lump sum gratuity. In all other cases, the normal pension programme entitlement would apply.

The Union insists that these men who have given up to 49 years service to the Company are entitled to redundancy payments and that pension programmes should not be used in a complete close-down of the Company's operations in Newcastle, excepting Sankey, which is treated as a separate division of the Company's operations.

There are, at present, approximately 1150 employees employed by the whole of the Company's operations at Newcastle, NSW, and it is expected that there will be 600 retrenchments, including 120 office staff, leaving 480 blue collar workers of whom 327 are members of the Federated Ironworkers' Association of Australia. Of these men, 57 would have given 40 to 49 years of service, 134 would have given 30 to 39 years of service, 48 would have given 20 to 29 years of service, 28 would have given 10 to 19 years of service, 60 with less than 1 year or up to 9 years of service.

That short summary only covers FLA membership and a similar pattern would also apply to tradesmen employed by this Company. (See document marked 'C.)

A further document was prepared by the Company headed - 1972 Close-down - FIA Employees -Service- dated 26th April, 1972, setting out the number of employees excluding Organic

Finishes Division, totalling 273 and their service in years and the number of employees involved. (See document marked 'D'.)

A further document dated 27th April, 1972, setting out- 1972 Close-down- FIA employeesAge Distribution. This document sets out the age and service calculated as at 21st April, 1972, of employees whom the FIA is entitled to represent; numbers exclude Sankey Division and Raw Materials Section, but include Organic Finishes Division. (See document marked 'E'.)

A document was prepared by the Company at the Union's request setting out - Wages employees Retirement Fund - Examples - (Employed at 21 years of age). This document set out the amounts of money our members would receive from the Company taking into account years of service and the total fund and past service payments. (See document marked 'F'.)


The examples show that the pension programme should not be used to cover redundancy and that a proper scheme should be agreed to giving our members a justifiable measure of security which they will not receive under the Company's proposed programme.

A meeting of all our members was held in the Newcastle Town Hall on Friday, 28th April, 1972, and the unanimous decisions of that meeting are enclosed. (See document marked 'G'.)

In pursuance of Resolution 1. of the meeting held on Friday, 28th April, 1972, a conference took place with Mr R. Utteridge, Chief General Manager of Lysaght Brownbuilt Industries, Newcastle, and Mr Jock Shaw, Chief Industrial Officer of the Company in Australia. This conference was held on Wednesday, 10th May, 1972. The Union was represented by Messrs J. Caesar, H. McCarthy and H. Hurrell, and the Union delegation was advised by the Company that because its Newcastle operations in the last five or six years have contributed nothing, neither profit nor loss, for an investment of twelve million dollars ($12,000,000), the Company was forced to make its decision to close down its opertions. The Company stated that in dealing with building products, using sheet steel, that it had developed a market for this product but so had their competitors, and as a result the Company has had to decentralise.

Five years ago, John Lysaght took over Brownbuilt Industries which carried out operations in all States of Australia and that as a result of decentralisation (and to use their term - rationalisation') Newcastle had become an unprofitable project.

The Company claimed that their only national competitor is Stramit but there are hundreds of smaller competitors who operate on a State basis and that some of their competitors are using imported sheet steel.

1.   The initial objective of the Union is to see whether or not steps can be taken by the Senate to have an inquiry into all aspects of Lysaght Brownbuilt Industries' Newcastle decision to close down its Newcastle operation*.

2.   John Lysaght is equally owned by Guest, Keen and Nettlefold Ltd and The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which is a Holding Company, and the Union wants to know whether the Company's decision was made by this international complex or whether the decision was made in Australia. (See document marked 'H' - Report of the Directors).

3.   What steps can be taken, if any, by the

Federal Government to intervene in this situation.

4.   If nothing can be done to force this Company to carry on its operations in Newcastle, what steps, if any, can be taken to see that a suitable and satisfactory redundancy scheme will apply.

In the last five or six years, when the Company has stated that their Newcastle investment has returned nothing, there has never been one occasion when this Company has had detailed discussions with this Union or any other Union regarding any problems which they may have had.

The Federal Minister for Labour and National Service made a public statement in Brisbane last week on this question of communication and it is suggested by this Union that a moratorium for a period of twelve months should apply so that the direct parties may have discussions in depth to see whether or not this Company's operations can continue and operate on a profitable basis, because it should be understood that the Company started its operations in Newcastle and concentrated on sheet rolling and that when A.I. & S. developed its Hot and Cold Strip Mill, sheet rolling was transferred to Port Kembla and the Company's Newcastle operations then applied to -

(a)   Building products,

(b)   Rural Industry,

(c)   Light and Heavy Engineering Products, and became in essence a job operation, usually with old equipment and our members state that it has been through their efforts and the achievement of substantial profits which have been used to expand to Port Kembla and all other States of Australia and the benefit that they have finally achieved is redundancy.

5.   Our members want to know how is it that this Company, which in conjunction with The Broken Hill Propretary Company Limited, will finally invest One thousand million dollars when four million tons of steel is produced late in the 1980s.

By 1985, over six hundred million dollars will have been spent on Westernport and already one hundred mililon dollars has been found by this Company, sixty million dollars from overseas sources and forty million dollars from its own internal investment (See documen marked'I' - Anatomy of a Super Giant).

The Union was informed on Wednesday, 10th May 1972, at its conference with the Company, that the Company's operations at Sankey, involving a total staff of 340, and the Raw Materials Section, with a staff of approximately 20, making a total staff of 360, should be kept separate and distinct from the retrenchments of the Company's other Divisional operations in the same plant.

The FIA has 195 members out of a total of 360 involved and the deputation was informed that this section of the operations involving 150 females should be kept separate and distinct because the current workers supply electric motors and transformer sheets and that there has been a tariff inquiry into this industry of recent date and that because our members in the main have from 20 to 49 years service with the Company that they are too old to perform this alternative work because the Union has always insisted in the past on the principle of last to come, first to go, so that the Company claims that it has been left with an old labour force.

An additional reason why there should be an inquiry held into all aspects of. the company's decision is that it is alleged by the Union that there are numerous persons who have received serious injuries over the years prior to the FIA's present administration who received nominal amounts in compensation on the basis that they would be found a job for life in the employment of the Company.

One example of this is that in 1938 a Mr Ted Brown received three hundred and seventy five POUNDS for severe injuries to his arm. He is now aged 54 years, having given the Company 39 years service and his chances of other employment, like many of his colleagues who have received similar injuries, is negligible.

Any steps that you can take to have this matter inquired into by a committee of the Senate will bring out all the facts associated with the Company's decision and whether or not any steps can be taken to force this Company to continue its operations. If this cannot be achieved, an inquiry will show the necessity of having a redundancy scheme worked out as agreed to between the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour and the Waterside Workers' Federation. (See document marked ' 'J' which provides for redundancy payments as well as pension benefits for persons who are members of the W.W.F. who have or will become redundant in the immediate future.)

I take this opportunity of thanking you for agreeing to pursue this matter in any way that you believe will assist our members and members of other Unions who are involved in the Lysaght close-down and any measures that you and your colleagues take to have 'this matter publicly inquired into is very much appreciated.

Kind regards.




1.   Retention of Sankey and Organic Finishes Divisions

The Sankey and Organic Finishes Divisions will be excluded from the general retrenchment programme, that is, these Divisions will continue to operate with their present personnel subject to, the effect of retirements of employees sixty years of age and over, and normal labour turnover.

2.   Retrenchment Basis

(a)   The basis for retrenchment will be by division or department

(b)   Within divisions or departments retrenchment will be on the basis of length of service with the Company subject to -

(i)   the general time table determined for the division or department;

(ii)   the reserved occupation principle. (This will be a decision for the Company.)

3.   $250 Lump Sum Gratuity

A gratuity payment of $250 will be made to all, employees who were in the Company's employ at the 21st April, 1972, and who remain in the employ of the Company to the date specified for their retrenchment or retirement.

4.   Payment of Ex Gratia $55 for Past Service

Notwithstanding that ten years' service has not been completed at retrenchment, employees who were in the employ of the Company at the 16th January, 1966, will be paid past service benefit of $55 for each completed year of service to the date of joining the Wages Employees' Retirement Fund, or to the date of retrenchement where they did not join the Fund.

5.   Compulsory Retirement of Employees Sixty Years of Age and Over

With the exception of those in reserved occupations, employees who by the 31st December, 1972, are sixty years of age or more will be retired by no later than 31st December, 1972, with benefits on the following -

(a)   Members of the Wages Employees' Retirement Fund - benefits as specified by the Rules of such Fund which will be determined as if service had been rendered up to normalretirement date, that is at age sixty-five. All contributions necessary for this purpose (including those of the employee) will be made by the Company.

(b)   Employees who continue to work for the Company up to the date of termination specified for them will be paid the lump sum of $250 additionally.

6.   Notice of Termination

Written advice will be available individually to employees at two points of time -

(a)   an initial indication of approximate termination date;

(b)   a firm statement of actual termination date when known.

The latter notice will be given as early as possible.

7.   Employees Leaving before Notice of Termination Given

These will be treated as if they had been given notice of retrenchment except for employees in Sankey and Organic Finishes Divisions. Payment of $250 lump sum will not apply.

8.   Employees Leaving before Specified Termination Date

These will receive full retrenchment benefits excluding payment of $250 lump sum.

9.   Employees Leaving without Working out Notice

Employees who wish to leave before their specified termination date will be expected to give and work out normal notice (one week). However, where a new employer insists on a commencement date which does not permit full notice to be given to and worked for this Company, shorter notice may be permitted subject to the needs of the employee's department at the time notice is given. Employees will be requested to try to arrange with new employers that starting dates with them permit normal notice to be given here.

10.   Alteration to Retrenchment Dates

If unexpected circumstances require retrenchment before the 31st July 1972, or in advance of previously announced retrenchment dates, as much notice as possible will be given.

11.   Transfers to Sankey and Organic Finishes Divisions

The basis for any transfer to Sankey and Organic Finishes Divisions to fill a vacancy will be that of length of service with the Company provided that employees concerned -

(a)   have any statutory certification necessary; and

(b)   are competent to do the job.

Where the occupation is regarded by the Divisional Manager concerned as a reserved occupation the right to select the appropriate employee will be such Manager's responsibility.

Where such transfer is effected, termination of employment may subsequently occur where an employee does not meet performance requirements in these Divisions. In this case where termination takes place on or before the 31st December 1972, it will be treated as retrenchment. Where termination occurs after 31st December 1972, it will be treated as any other termination.

12.   Transfer to Other Company Locations

The Company will offer to selected employees transfer to other Company locations, and the Company will reimburse such employees for the reasonable costs of transferring their families and their personal effects. Should an employee not wish to take advantage of this opportunity, the Company is still prepared to extend full benefits as if he were retrenched.

13.   Requests for Information

Request forms seeking entitlements will be available from foremen. These will be completed in the Personnel Department and returned confidentially to each employee as soon as possible.


Chief General Manager 24th April 1972 27 April 1972


Note: Company service calculated as at 21.4.72 of employees whom F.I. A. is entitled to represent; numbers exclude Sankey and Organic Finishes Division.


26th April, 1972


Note: Company service calculated as at 21.4.72 of employees whom F.I.A. is entitled to represent; numbers exclude Sankey and Organic Finishes Division.


27lh April, 1972


Note: Age and service calculated as at 21st April, 1972 of employees whom F.I.A. is entitled to represent; numbers exclude Sankey Division and Raw Materials Section, but include Organic Finishes Division.



1.   We reject the Company's decision to close down the Newcastle Works of John Lysaght from July to December, 1972, and seek a conference with Mr E. B. Goss (Chairman), and Mr H. . J. Pearce (Managing Director) to see that this decision is reversed; the delegation from the FIA being Bros H. McCarthy. J. Caesarand H. Hurrell.

2.   The Union be instructed to take all necessary steps to seek a Senate Enquiry into the John Lysaght decision to close their Newcastle plant, affecting 650 persons, in light of the Company's recent investments into Brownbuilt and their

Westernport projects, costing hundreds of millions of dollars; especially in view of the fact that the majority of their Newcastle employees' services range from 20-to-49 years.

3.   This meeting of John Lysaght employees repect the Company's offer, and under no circumstances should the Company use the pension programme as an offset against redundancy. One month's pay for each year of service should be paid to all employees, plus an additional month's pay to all such employees, if the Newcastle plant is forced to close down against the wishes of the employees of John Lysaght.

4.   The employees instruct the Union to make Common Cause with Lysaght employees throughout Australia, and in particular with Springhill Works and C.R.M., Port Kembla, employees, if agreement is not reached with the Board of Directors of the Company in the immediate future.

Industrial and Political action be taken to obtain the Union's objective.

5.   The Union accept the recommendation of the local Labour Member, Mr Sum Jones, to obtain support of the State Government, through the efforts of the local Labor Parliamentarians, so that conferences with the Premier and the Minister for Decentralisation and Development may be held.

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