Solid Energy confirms scope of job losses

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 10:11 28/06/2014

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Solid Energy has confirmed 185 employees and contractors on the West Coast will be made redundant in a restructuring.

The state-owned company announced the proposal to staff at its Stockton coal mine on June 6, and yesterday confirmed it would go ahead.

Solid Energy chief executive Dan Clifford said changes had been made following consultation. Two fewer positions than proposed are being made redundant, but 102 mining jobs will still be lost.

A further 33 management, technical, support services and administrative jobs have been cut, as well as 50 contractors.

A process to determine who will stay on at the mine is expected to be completed by the end of July.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) West Coast organiser Garth Elliott said it was a "sad day for our miners".

"We knew it was coming, but it's still a heavy blow," he said.

Miners would now be able to apply for voluntary redundancy.

"There still aren't a lot of jobs out there on the West Coast and when that money runs out, things will get tough," Elliott said.

The EPMU believed mismanagement by Solid Energy's previous board had led to the present struggles. "We hold the Government accountable for Solid Energy's current position, and for not addressing the high dollar or creating jobs in our region. Miners are now paying the price for the politicians' inaction."

He said there had been considerable changes to some of the selection criteria following consultation.

The union had been concerned that people who had been taking legal entitlements to sick leave would have been penalised under attendance criteria, but that had been changed.

Two other aspects of the proposal the union had raised concerns about had been altered also.

Elliott said a requirement that workers would have to "bank" hours had been removed. It would have meant employees were sent home but still paid when weather prevented work, but expected to come back on days off or do overtime to make those hours up.

A second proposal was that workers on 12-hour shifts would have to take their second meal break in their vehicles, to save time travelling back to the break rooms. Elliott said that had been removed as well.

The consultation period "wasn't an easy time" but the union had "managed to achieve a few things, probably a bit more than we expected", he said.

Production at the open cast mine will reduce by 500,000 tonnes in the coming financial year, to 1.4 million tonnes a year. This was expected to save about $60 million.

When the company announced the proposal on June 6, it cited low international coal prices as the reason for the change.

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