Collinsville locals question Glencore’s social licence to operate

Collinsville locals say ‘nothing solid’ came out of the meeting held with GlencoreXstrata yesterday on the future of the mine, with the company refusing to answer key questions around community concerns.

The miner held a meeting about the future of the mine with the Collinsville Community Reference Group yesterday, detailing a number of changes being introduced to address losses faced at the operation over the last two years.

The local community have become increasingly concerned that their town may go under after the closure of the mine in early September, with the multi-national miner refusing to grant preference to the existing workforce as it moves to an owner-operator model.

Glencore say previous workplace agreements are restrictive and want to re-hire workers under differing contracts which are “modern and flexible”, a move which has angered the unions and the community alike.

A local who attended the meeting told Australian Mining the discussion did little to alleviate community concerns around the future of businesses and job prospects for locals.

“Nothing positive came from it,” she said.

The woman said the company refused to answer questions around why the miner was not giving preference to the existing workforce or what was meant by ‘restrictive agreements’.

“There are all these things they won’t talk about, there’s little transparency,” she said.

In the meeting, Glencore said the coal mine will not reopen until early 2014 if new employee arrangements cannot be finalised.

However with the state of businesses on the ground being described as ‘dire’ many say if the mine remains closed until 2014, some won’t survive.

“The coffee shop closed last Friday,” the women said.

“It’s ruining a very small community.”

With no guarantee jobs will go the 190 Collinsville locals who lost their jobs, people are now seeking work elsewhere in different career paths to help makes ends meet.

The women said workers have taken the miner's actions very personally.

“It’s a huge kick in the guts for the men who have been loyal to the company,” she said.

“The best they can do is look for work elsewhere.”

Glencore say the recruitment process for a 400-strong workforce will kick off in the next few weeks, and has encouraged locals to apply.

The CFMEU have accused Glencore of being anti-union and anti-collective bargaining, stepping up their fight against the multi-national miner by announcing that it plans to take Glencore to court to block the miner from hiring new workers.

It has claimed the miner is attempting to disband the CFMEU’s footprint in the region.

Speaking to Australian Mining, CFMEU Queensland district president Stephen Smyth questioned the company’s intentions, asking how all ex-Thiess workers could be seen as ‘bad apples”.

While most aspects of the new workplace agreement remains under wraps, an ad taken out by Glencore in a Bowen newspaper said Glencore’s new salary for a 7 day roster was higher by $1900 – $5,370 per year to $119,989 – $128,943.

While superannuation contributions will rise by $410 – $1240 a year to $11,099 – $11,927.

However critics say higher wages come at the cost of reduced entitlements such as rental assistance which makes the agreement less attractive.

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