'Second wave of pain': No jobs for FIFO workers coming home
BRUISED and battle wearied Gladstone may have to brace for a "second wave of pain" when hundreds of workers return to town after gas projects around the country begin to come online this year.
Deputy mayor Chris Trevor warned that Gladstone would be in for a world of hurt if all three tiers of government did not act now to create new industries in town.
Mr Trevor feared that within the next two years there wouldn't be any jobs left in Gladstone for the locals who are currently forced to work away from home on projects like Wheatstone in Western Australia and Ichthys in Darwin.
He said for the first time since 1963 there wasn't any "major shovel ready project" in Gladstone to cater for an influx of skilled construction workers returning to town.
"This time there is nothing to come home to, nothing to cushion the blow...no parachute," Mr Trevor said.
"We are going to hit the ground really hard ... and that's what community leaders need to address because local people will come back to no jobs."
Mr Trevor said work was going on "behind the scenes" to attract industries and provide long term and sustainable jobs in health services, aged care and tourism.
"There will be great announcements on this in the coming weeks," he said.
"The primary focus is to move away from the (construction) industry and a lot of skilled workers will have to be retrained."
But this news may come as cold comfort to workers who already find themselves out of a job and scraping the bottom of the barrel to make ends meet.
One Gladstone FIFO worker, who asked not to be named because he still hoped to secure work in the industry, was "filthy" after he found out the job he was made redundant from 10 days out from Christmas last year was readvertised on Friday.
Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union organiser Grant Harradine said although he felt it wasn't ethically right, UGL-Kentz only had to wait six weeks before advertising jobs for positions it had previously made workers redundant for.
The Gladstone local was part of 145 workers cut from UGL-Kentz at the INPEX-led Ichthys LNG project in Darwin and his story may foreshadow the pain Mr Trevor was talking about.
When The Observer spoke to the worker before Christmas he said he would have about six weeks before he'd start to run out of money if he hadn't found work.
"The reality is I haven't found a job and I've only had phone calls last week for a weld test next week for a one week shut down," he said.
"Once I realised nothing was being answered I stopped...in all honesty it made me depressed.
"My aim was to get something in the new year ."
He said part of the problem was that because so many people have handed in resumes, companies with jobs on the go "had a pool of workers" to draw on.
"They don't even need to advertise any more because they'll just pick a resume out and give you a call to see if you're interested," he said.
Although the worker sent off an application for his old job in Darwin, he wasn't hopeful of getting the job.
According to a union delegate working at Ichthys, "all the positions had been taken".
"I'm filthy, to state your role is no longer required and then 60 days later to advertise those same positions without being offered the job is wrong," he said. "Why do they need more employees when they just got rid of blokes?"
INPEX was contacted but because of time constraints was unable to comment.