BP's operation shut down news for workers came via TV

AN HOUR before hundreds of Brisbane refinery workers learned they had lost their jobs, a forensically timed announcement from BP began to unravel.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and staff first found out from television reports that the Bulwer Island refinery near the Port of Brisbane would cut up to 355 workers.

The figure did not include up to 445 contractors working at the site, whose jobs are also at risk.

At 10.30am, BP top brass in Melbourne made a televised announcement while Brisbane workers were herded into a "town hall" meeting to hear it from local management.

An email statement was also sent out.

By the end of 2015, the site would be shuttered, forced into oblivion by massive new competing refineries springing up overseas.

Only 25 of the site's 380-strong team would remain.

BP vowed to help the newly jobless find new roles either within the company or elsewhere.

AMWU Queensland secretary Rohan Webb said the closure was a "kick in the guts" for Queensland manufacturing.

"BP did not consult in any way with employees whose jobs are at risk, prior to making the announcement public," he said.

"BP was more interested in informing the media than talking to their dedicated, hard-working employees whose lives and families will be deeply affected by this decision."

Premier Campbell Newman told reporters on Wednesday the government would be asking what BP would do for its workers.

"They're highly skilled, highly trained people in a very specialised industry and I expect BP to really look after those people and the families," he said.

BP Australasia president Andy Holmes said the closure marked a "sad day" for the workers and the company.