Mine staff furious as meeting postponed
Spring Creek staff are furious Solid Energy invited them to a meeting to announce the mine's future today and then postponed it indefinitely three hours later.
"The mood is complete anger," Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union site convener Trevor Bolderson said yesterday.
"It's shocking, disgraceful. They wouldn't do this in a Third World country. My phone has been running hot all day," he said.
Solid Energy apologised for its mistake when contacted by The Press.
"We had hoped we would be in the position to talk to our staff. Unfortunately, we didn't make as much progress as we had hoped," a spokeswoman said.
"For that, we have to apologise. We appreciate the uncertainty and the stress that this situation is causing everyone."
The underground West Coast coalmine's future has been uncertain since the state-owned enterprise suspended operations almost three weeks ago, pending a review of its viability.
A few of its 200 workers and 50 to 60 contractors had returned to work to maintain the mine's safety, but the rest had been on leave on full pay.
Bolderson said all staff were phoned yesterday morning and asked to attend a meeting in Dunollie, near the mine, at 1pm today for an announcement on its future.
Three hours later they were phoned again and told the meeting had been postponed.
A Solid Energy consultant had lodged his review of Spring Creek's future last Friday to shareholding ministers, Bolderson said.
A report by a team of workers and the union on ways to keep the mine open accompanied the review.
Bolderson said he doubted ministers had time to properly consider the reports before staff were asked to the meeting.
"My opinion is I strongly believe the Government has intervened," he said.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn criticised Solid Energy for reversing its decision to meet staff today to announce the mine's future.
"They are playing with loyal workers' emotions and this is far from acceptable. This flip-flopping has got to stop."
He is due to meet Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder and new chairman Mark Ford this afternoon in Greymouth.
Elder and Ford will also meet union representatives today.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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