Despite claims from the government that the naval shipbuilding "valley of death" is over, ASC will shed over 200 jobs by June as the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) project winds down.
In a written statement, ASC advised that while the taxpayer-owned company is working to secure more work on major naval shipbuilding projects, reductions in workforce are needed as the AWD program wraps up.
The second of the three destroyers is now in the water while work on the third vessel, Sydney, is nearing its end.
"ASC Shipbuilding, together with the federal government, has been working to retain as much shipbuilding capability as possible ahead of the start of the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) and Future Frigate programs. This is being achieved by transferring shipbuilding personnel to work on ASC’s submarine maintenance operations and on to other shipbuilding-related work and training opportunities," the company said in a statement.
"However, planned workforce reductions on the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) Program are now required to ensure the workforce profile meets operational requirements as the project nears completion."
ASC confirmed that a six-week consultation phase with staff will now commence, and both voluntary and forced redundancies will be offered.
"ASC Shipbuilding is briefing employees on the impact of the changes and support will be provided through the company’s employee assistance program and career transition centre," the statement said.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has lashed the federal government for the latest bout of job losses at ASC.
"Minister Pyne and the Turnbull government have betrayed shipbuilders by not standing by their commitment to transition jobs of South Australian shipbuilders to future projects," the AMWU said in a statement.
AMWU South Australian assistant secretary Peter Bauer hit out at Minister Pyne, arguing no consultation has taken place with ASC workers.
Subscribe to the Defence Connect daily newsletter.
Be the first to hear the latest developments in the defence industry.
"The minister publicly announced that shipbuilding’s valley of death was now over,” said Bauer. "If the Valley of Death is over, how do they explain today’s announcement?
"The minister needs to immediately take urgent steps to secure this workforce – or they won’t have the skilled workers required for the future."
A statement from Minister Pyne blamed the reduction of the workforce on the Labor governments led by Rudd and Gillard.
"The slowdown of work for the ASC is the direct result of Labor’s failure to commission a single vessel from an Australian yard," Minister Pyne said.
"This inaction has impacted on the stability of shipbuilding jobs as well as the capability of our Navy. Under Labor, the NUSHIP Sydney would have been the last vessel built at Osborne, however in stark contrast, the Turnbull government has committed to build 11 new ships at Osborne, and 12 new submarines."
Opposition minister for Defence Richard Marles rejected the claims and slammed the government for not acting sooner.
"A competent government would have seen this coming. A caring government would have done something about it," Minister Marles said.
"This government is neither, and the result is people losing their job."
ASC Shipbuilding will commence construction work on the first two OPVs later and is actively pursuing a major role in the Future Frigates program. A decision on the project, which will see either BAE Systems, Fincantieri or Navantia design and construct nine vessels, is expected by June this year.