“SIGNIFICANT financial losses” have been cited as the reason for Svitzer Australia announcing a proposal to quit Port Jackson (Sydney) and Geelong.

In a statement announced on Tuesday evening, the company said the proposal was subsequent to consultation with unions and workers.

Svitzer Australia managing director Nicolaj Noes talked of a competitive market.

“Over the last two years Svitzer has lost port share while volumes have dropped. The COVID crisis has exacerbated these challenges,” he said.

“As a result, Svitzer has been losing millions of dollars at the ports, which we have been unable to address despite our best efforts.

“We have not come to this decision lightly, and it is a result of changed market factors and our inability to respond effectively to those changes.”

Exiting Geelong is expected to result in about 18 full-time crew positions being made redundant, while leaving Port Jackson is to result in the loss of 21 full time jobs.

However, the company has flagged the possibility of redeployments and “generous redundancy packages”.

“This is a difficult day for our hardworking crews in Geelong and Sydney, as well as the rest of the workforce, and I want to thank them for their ongoing efforts to provide safe towage services and keep shipping moving,” Mr Noes said.

“We are committed to the consultation process but Svitzer believes this is a necessary step to shore up our business nationally so we can continue to offer excellent towage services and well-paid jobs.”

Alternative towage providers are established in each port.

“Svitzer will continue to provide towage services in both ports, until the conclusion of the consultation process and a decision is implemented,” Mr Noes said.

“The proposal does not impact on Svitzer’s other ports or operations.”