South West community and unions work together in quest for Albemarle jobs

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Hundreds from the South West community lined Forrest Highway to send a message to Albemarle demanding jobs are given to locals.
Camera IconHundreds from the South West community lined Forrest Highway to send a message to Albemarle demanding jobs are given to locals.

The AMWU has vowed it will not be going away as representatives throw their support behind a community campaign for more local jobs at Albemarle’s lithium processing plant.

A community meeting in Eaton this Sunday is expected to attract a diverse crowd of people demanding the South West gets a bigger share of jobs created at the Kemerton industrial park plant.

AMWU assistant State secretary Glenn McLaren said there were fears that contracts would continue to be awarded to companies not based in the region.

“This is the South West, it’s a beautiful part of our State and we really should be encouraging people to come down here and stay down here,” he said.

“The unemployment rates in Bunbury and surrounding areas mean there should be plenty of opportunities for local engagement.”

More than 200 community members lined Forrest Highway at Easter after talks between unions and the US company broke down.

Mr McLaren said he expected more to attend Sunday’s meeting.

“We’ve had a number of local workers finish up at Greenbushes since then,” he said.

“We’ve also had a lot of interest from local businesses saying they haven’t been getting a look-in and that they’re being bypassed for Perth-based companies.

“We think that is appalling.”

Mr McLaren emphasised that the action being taken was driven by the community and the union was simply facilitating it.

“We’re just lending a lot of support because it is an issue we feel passionate about,” he said.

Groundwork started on the site in January. Mr McLaren said he expected the next stage of construction to start closer to Christmas after the wet weather.

He said continuing campaigns to attract the attention of the US lithium company would be discussed at the meeting.

“We’ll be talking about the campaign strategy we wish to run and that is to bring Albemarle and the contractors they have selected to the table,” Mr McLaren said.

“We want them to come to the table to say to what they’re going to do for local employment, local procurement and local businesses.

“We’re in this for the long haul.”

An initial meeting scheduled for last month was postponed due to poor weather leading organisers to hold Sunday’s meeting indoors at Bunbury & Districts Softball Association headquarters from 10am.

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