400 workers face uncertain future at Collinsville coal mine

The CFMEU have accused GlencoreXstrata of leaving 400 workers out in the cold as the miner moves to owner-operator at Collinsville coal mine.

GlencoreXstrata first announced in February it would take control of the Collinsville Coal Mine away from Thiess as it pushes for the project to turn a profit.

However after 400 workers were notified by Thiess yesterday that their employment contract would end on August 31, they now face an uncertain future as GlencoreXstrata  have not yet made a commitment to take them on under their new operating model.

The CFMEU have accused the mining giant of trying to force workers into individual contracts if they want to keep their jobs.

"Since announcing its decision to take over as owner-operator at Collinsville, the aggressively anti-union GlencoreXstrata management have been requesting local mineworkers accept individual contracts," CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said.

"GlencoreXstrata's approach to workplace relations at Collinsville is frankly an abomination."

Speaking to Australian Mining a CFMEU spokesman said legally GlencoreXstrata are supposed to take over any EBA agreements in place.

He accused the company of being anti-union and anti collective bargaining and vowed to fight for workers rights.

“This is shaping up to be a big one,” he said.

A spokesman from GlencoreXstrata told Australian Mining that the mine had been running at a loss for 18 months and was in a transition phase that was attempting to keep the mine viable.

He said moves to rectify loss-making at the project included implementing “a new workplace agreement that is modern and flexible whether this be through individual or collective agreements”.

“We’re of the view that the current workplace agreement has restrictive practices and is a hindrance to the mine being in a position to being as productive as it can be,” the spokesman said.

“Having a new flexible workplace agreement is essential.”

The spokesman was unable to confirm whether any of the 400 affected Thiess workers would be regain employment at the mine as the company does not “have that level of detail yet”.

In a letter sent to employees last week the miner said it was committed to employing people from the local community.

“We believe we will be able to employ people committed to our future vision for the mine from the local communities of Collinsville, Scottsville, Bowen and Glenden.  Employing locally will allow us to continue to support the ongoing sustainability of the local communities and standard of living with our workforce earning wages of approximately $130,000 per year.”

Other measures being taken to ensure the mine remains open include redesigning the mine plan to allow for larger equipment, increasing strip lengths, and upgrading the CHPP.

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