Glencore face union ire over workplace changes

Swiss mining giant GlencoreXstrata is at loggerheads with unions as it looks to modify the workplace deal at its Collinsville mine in Queensland.

The changes come as Glencore dismissed Thiess as its mining contractor at Collinsville and it looks to make the mine profitable again after more than a year.

It will make mining operations in-house from September 1, according to the SMH, and is looking to modify the current workplace agreements for its employees.

The decision to dump Thiess as manager of Collinsville came as Xstrata had “suffered substantial financial losses” as coal prices dropped, the Australian dollar rose and operational costs increased.

GlencoreXstrata said in a letter to mine workers that it could continue to keep employees who were ‘committed to our future vision for the mine’.

It also said “flexible workplace agreements without restrictive work practices” were “critical to the mine’s future viability”.

“We have no set preference for any specific type of labour agreement but any agreement must be modern, flexible and without restrictions,” the company said.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said Glencore should engage in discussions with its employees if it wished to make changes.

“The industrial regulation at the mine will not be a matter of your preference. It is a matter of law and the law provides that the current agreement will apply,” he said.

The union also cautioned Glencore not to threaten its employees.

CFMEU accused Thiess of picking union employees for job cuts at the Collinsville mine earlier this year.

It was revealed in December last year 95 workers would lose their jobs at the mien due to falling commodity prices.

The coal industry always had a hostile atmosphere in relation to industrial relations but this has intensified as the sector grapples with falling commodity prices and rising operational costs.

A Glencore official recently told a Senate inquiry that more than 30 per cent of Australian coalmines were running at a loss. But the spike in the Australian dollar has cushioned the blow. 

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