Boral cuts 'shocker' for manufacturing

Job cuts at building products company Boral represent a "shocking start" to 2013 for Australian manufacturing, the head of the Australian Workers Union says.

Boral announced on Wednesday that it was shedding 700 jobs nationwide as part of a company-wide restructure.

Speaking in Sydney, AWU national secretary Paul Howes slammed Boral for failing to consult with the union and said he was "very disappointed it had made the decision unilaterally".

"We know that Australian manufacturing is being hit for six," Mr Howes told reporters.

"With the Australian dollar sitting at 106, with record levels of illegal trade dumping occurring in this country at the moment, we know that 2013 will be the making or breaking year for Australian manufacturing."

He said he suspected the decision was an attempt by Boral's new chief executive to impress the company's board and shareholders by getting a short-term bounce in its share price.

However, Mr Howes said he was confident the AWU would be able to work with Boral to minimise the impact on union members.

He had met with the company on Wednesday morning for "preliminary discussions" but said he did not know which states would be hardest hit by the announcement.

At a media conference on Wednesday, Boral chief executive Mike Kane said NSW would bear the brunt of the cuts.

While the 700 redundancies would be spread across Australia, NSW would account for 40 per cent of the job losses because Boral's head office is in Sydney.

Victoria and Queensland would each account for 20 per cent of the job losses, while about 12 per cent would come from South Australia, eight per cent from Western Australia and about one per cent from Tasmania, he said.

"The highest impact would be in NSW because that's where a lot of our corporate functions are," Mr Kane said.

Mr Kane said of the 700 redundancies, 200 have already occurred, and the rest are expected to be completed by March.

Other recently announced moves to outsource production take Boral's total job cuts in the 2012/13 financial year to 1000, from a global workforce of 14,740, as of June 30, 2012.

Boral expects the redundancies to cost it $60 million in 2012/13, but it expects annual cost savings of $90 million will result.

Boral's announcement comes the day after steelmaker BlueScope announced it was cutting a further 170 jobs in Victoria as it reduced production to cut costs.

Mr Howes said he suspected the decision was an attempt by Boral's new chief executive to impress the company's board and shareholders by getting a short-term bounce in its share price.

"It's not how Australian companies should work," Mr Howes said.

The market reacted positively to the job cuts, with Boral's shares shooting up 8.6 per cent to $4.75 at 11.40am (AEDT).

The company, which makes home building products such as bricks, roof tiles and doors, as well as materials for larger construction projects such as concrete and stone.

It has been under financial pressure due to a prolonged slump in housing construction and delays in major construction projects.

Opposition industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella blamed the job cuts on excessive regulation and failing business confidence under the federal Labor government.

"Labor's deliberate policies of more red tape, higher taxes and increased business burdens have slugged manufacturing business like Boral, making it more difficult for them to remain competitive," Mrs Mirabella said.

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