Stand-downs loom over steel shortage

Manufacturing workers face stand-downs due to steel shortages despite a return to work by Electrical Trades Union workers at BlueScope Steel’s Hastings plant.

Appliance maker Rheem Australia was scheduled to stand down 320 workers next week for two weeks because it did not have enough steel to continue.

The general manager of Echuca-based gas-bottle maker Manchester Tank & Equipment, Mark Ingelfinger, said his operations had been affected by the steel shortage. He said that in a normal week the company, Australia’s only gas-bottle maker, used 130 tonnes of steel. In the past four weeks (which included a two-week Christmas break), it had used only nine tonnes.

A steel industry source believed BlueScope had a backlog of 80,000 tonnes of steel as a result of the dispute.

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