Stockton decision tipped for Friday

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 06:00 25/06/2014

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Solid Energy is expected to announce on Friday whether it will go ahead with proposed changes to its Stockton coal mine.

The state-owned company announced on June 6 the restructure proposal to staff, which would result in 187 employee and contractor job losses.

The two-week consultation ended last Friday and workers were expected to know by July 14 who would still have jobs, should the restructure go ahead.

Engineers, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) West Coast organiser Garth Elliott said the consultation had gone well and the union had a "fair bit of input". The proposed selection criteria would assess staff's skills, attendance, past disciplinary events and ability.

The EPMU questioned if employees would be penalised for taking leave they were legally entitled to, such as short-term sick leave.

Elliott said the company had since indicated attendance would only be used as a criteria if there had been concerns raised during employment.

Past disciplinary action would likely still be included. Elliott said the union had raised that issue with the company "but I don't think we've got a lot of movement out of it".

Taylor Shaw partner and employment law specialist Kathryn Dalziel said Solid Energy was within its rights to develop criteria to guide its decision on who would be made redundant, but there were potential pitfalls.

Including disciplinary events could mean workers were "punished twice" for the original offence, she said.

"What they're basically saying is there's going to be a further punishment for what's already been resolved," she said.

She also warned that the assessment process was not subject to confidentiality or privacy law.

It was dangerous ground when aspects such as attendance and disciplinary action were included, Dalziel said.

Elliott said he understood workers would be able to indicate whether they wanted to be considered for voluntary redundancy from this Friday, should Solid Energy confirm the restructure.

In the meantime, there was some anxiety while employees waited to find out what the changes meant for them.

"A situation like this is never easy for anybody. Everybody's just sitting and waiting," he said.

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- The Press

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