Concern skills will be lost if companies can't secure future contracts

THE Committee for Ballarat chairwoman has called on the government to help stabilise the work of contract-based manufacturers like Alstom.

Judy Verlin said she worried the industry's highly skilled workforce would be lost if companies could not secure future contracts. Her call comes after Alstom missed out on a $376 million contract to manufacture Metro trains.

"It's difficult working to contract. You can't sustain the jobs waiting for the (next) contract to come through.

We would encourage continuity for future contracts. (This is a company) the government has had a strong relationship with over a number of years," Ms Verlin said.

Alstom recently confirmed it had lost the bid for the construction of 25 trains for the Cranbourne-Pakenham line in Melbourne, putting 60 jobs at risk at the Creswick Road facility.

Ms Verlin said it would be a shame to lose highly skilled workers if Alstom could not find another big contract to keep it going.

"If this is something that's going to impact on (Alstom), it would be a tragedy for the city.

"There are quite unique skills there, and they have earned the respect of the industry, and have delivered their previous contracts ahead of schedule and on budget," she said.

Alstom spokesman Sheldon Young confirmed last week the company had fallen out of the running for the contract, which will now go to one of two Hong Kong-based manufacturers with links to Metro's parent company, MTR.

The contract would have been an boon for Ballarat's manufacturing industry, with local companies providing components to Alstom.

In comparison, last year's deal to fit out,  not construct,  eight trains was worth $176 million, so the construction of 25 new trains would have been a much bigger boost to Ballarat industry.

Ms Verlin said French-owned Alstom recognised how much it relied on local suppliers.

Alstom will finish fitting out eight X'Trapolis trains for the state government next

year.

alex.hamer@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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