At least 18 employees at David Brown Gear Systems Ltd have been left in limbo after proposed redundancies were deferred by the company.
The redundancies were due to take effect as of Thursday, July 17, at the company's head office in Bulli. However, management put the move on hold, instead telling workers they would likely lose their jobs in coming weeks.
The decision affects mostly machinery building staff, however, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Wollongong industrial officer John Stewart said other roles would also be lost.
The move follows the business's decision in December to cut more than 20 positions, as the mining services company struggles to deal with the downturn in the sector.
On its website, the company described itself as "a leading manufacturer of gearing solutions and services", which "has been providing engineering expertise to a range of industries for more than 150 years".
Mr Stewart said the lack of certainty surrounding the redundancies had caused many workers, some of whom had been with the company for more than 20 years, considerable distress.
"It's hanging over them - the guys were obviously quite upset," he said. "It's a difficult thing to go through at the best of times ... you go in one day, then it gets cancelled, then you're told it probably will still occur in the next few weeks.
"It's quite stressful."
Mr Stewart said the latest round of redundancies was symptomatic of the larger downturn in the manufacturing and mining sectors across the Illawarra, with workers now looking for employment interstate.
"Normally in a mining downturn, we can try to find alternative roles but because the manufacturing sector has taken such a hit as well, we really are struggling to find any companies looking for employees," he said.
"A lot of people are looking to Western Australia, Queensland, trying to find some work.
"From our point of view, it's difficult to see where the bottom of this hole really is - we're trying to figure out when there's going to be an upturn."
The Mercury left messages with David Brown Gear Industries Ltd's Bulli office seeking comment, however, management did not respond prior to deadline.