Operation closures to shed jobs

HUNDREDS of Australian workers face an uncertain future after two of the country's major companies revealed plans to shut down operations in NSW and Victoria.

Caltex will close its oil refinery at Kurnell in Sydney within two years and Qantas's joint venture company, LTQ Engineering, will close its Victorian jet engine maintenance plant in September.

In a statement released by LTQ on Thursday, "consistent losses" and "reduced regional demand" were blamed for the Qantas plant closure.

At least 164 skilled jobs will be lost.

Qantas is expected to send the jobs offshore to maintenance hangars in Europe and Asia.

The imminent closure of the last Caltex refinery in NSW will leave 600 workers in the lurch.

The announcement was met with heavy criticism from union bosses and the motor industry.

Australian Maritime Union National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said he was concerned the closure would have significant ramifications for shipping jobs in the country's coastal trade.

He called on the company to commit to the retention of its Australian-crewed tankers.

"After operating in Australia for decades and enjoying a large share of the market, Caltex has a greater responsibility to the community than simply sacking workers," Mr Crumlin said

"Offshoring its refinery operation is a calculated decision to cut costs at the expense of national economic sustainability and independence."

NRMA Director Graham Blight said the announcement was "bad news" for the country's energy industry.

He said the NRMA believed there was no possible justification for an immediate fuel price hike but warned the closure of a refinery which produced half of NSW's fuel requirement could have dire consequences.

"As we become even more beholden to foreign supplies, our fuel security will become an even bigger issue," Mr Blight said

"We will be at the mercy of foreign markets and international politics - this is a huge risk."

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