Around 25 jobs in the slabyard at BlueScope are set to go in the next 18 months.
Workers have been told in meetings on Wednesday night and Thursday and Friday that between 15 and 16 operators and eight to 10 tradespeople will lose their jobs.
Australian Workers’ Union Port Kembla branch secretary Wayne Phillips said the job losses would come through increased automation in the slabyard.
The slabyard handles steel slabs, which are stacked in piles before being moved by crane to other locations within the steelworks to be made into steel strips or plate.
It is understood the cranes will be automated, like those in other areas of the Port Kembla plant.
“There will be some automation in the slabyard which will affect employees,” Mr Phillips said.
“Now I can’t argue against automation, new technology - that’s fine. But I will argue against … losing surplus people when we’ve still got labour hire workers and casuals working in the industry.
“It just doesn’t make sense. Our people should be replacing the casuals or contractors.”
Mr Phillips described the news as “a kick in the guts" to workers who voted in favour of pay freezes last year to keep the steelworks open.
“The company have been getting rid of people since November, since we finished that last EBA – they haven’t let up," he said.
Mr Phillips said the union would push for retrenched workers to be retrained and redeployed elsewhere at Port Kembla.
While morale is claimed to be low at the steelworks, Mr Phillips did not think many slabyard workers would take a redundancy.
This was largely because they have only been working at the steelworks for a short time.
“There are some people who still want the VR but I think the majority will want redeployment,” he said.
“Most of the older guys in the slabyard are gone. There’s a young workforce there at the moment.”
BlueScope was contacted for comment on this story.