Concerns of nepotism and favouritism in Huntly East coal mine's redundancy selection process have upset those who lost their jobs, and left many of the rest with ''survivor guilt'', according to a mine employee.
But Solid Energy's general manager of communications, Vicki Blyth, vehemently denies the allegations, saying the redundancy process had been ''completely transparent''.
Mrs Blyth said ''extremely challenging global coal market conditions'' were to blame for 63 redundancies, which had reduced the mine's staff from 234 to 171 people this month.
But a miner, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, said the ''matrix system'' that had been used to determine redundancies appeared to have been unfairly weighted in favour of friends and relatives of the mine's managers.
The matrix system gave miners between one and four points on each of a series of indicators, such as how long they had been employed at the mine, and how many sick days they had taken, with the miners with the highest scores retaining their jobs.
But the worried miner, who kept his job, said there was concern that miners who had been with the company for just six months had received ''fours'' when other more experienced miners had received ''threes'' with no explanation for the difference.
He said he knew of at least three miners with ties to management who had retained their jobs ahead of others with ''far more mining experience''.
''Family members and friends have been given jobs.''
They're not bad people, but it's not fair,'' he said.
''It's not happening the way it should be, it's not legit.''
The miner said being made redundant was difficult enough on his former colleagues without the feeling they had had ''the wool pulled over (their) eyes'' in the selection process.
''A lot of us have survivor guilt.
''We've been saying 'what's going on here, what is this?'
''We've got a job so what can we do?''
He said miners had attempted to raise the issue but given the involvement of senior management their Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union representative Brian Lynch's ''hands were tied''.
However, Mrs Blyth labelled the accusation as ''absolute rubbish''.
''It was an absolutely fair system, it had to be."
Mrs Blyth said although Solid Energy received plenty of feedback throughout the redundancy process, concerns of nepotism and favouritism had not been raised.
''They are entirely new and we refute them.
''Clearly some people will be disappointed with the result of the process but we stand by it as very fair, transparent, compliant with current legislation and one that would stand up to critical examination.''
Mrs Blyth said people were selected on a number of criteria covering general experience and qualifications, conduct, work performance, history and service with the company, but ''it wasn't a case of last in first out''.
''The selection process has been extensively discussed with workforce representatives (EPMU) and reviewed by external lawyers.''
She said family relationships and friendships at the mine were inevitable given the size of Huntly so care was taken to ensure the assessment was fair.
''There was about 20 people who requested a review or raised issues and we have responded to all of these.
''We did not change our selections as a result.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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