GlencoreXstrata refuse to meet with Collinsville locals

Locals say it was an opportunity for GlencoreXstrata to present their side of the argument, but the multi-national miner refused to attend a community member meeting in Collinsville this week.

Mining Communities United (MCU) president, and Collinsville resident, Donna Bulloch, invited representatives from the CFMEU and Glencore to a community forum in the town.

However GlencoreXstrata refused to attend.

Bulloch told Australian Mining the meeting had now been cancelled.

“GlencoreXstrata are saying there are a lot of untruths being represented in the media, but won’t come and tell their side of things to locals,” she said.

A letter sent by the company stated: “…we do not believe that a public debate with the CFMEU as proposed in your correspondence would provide a platform for genuine and constructive progression of discussion about the situation at our Collinsville mine."

Bulloch said a second meeting was requested because ‘nothing solid’ came out of a meeting with the miner earlier this month, held with only 14 people at the mine itself.

She added that the meeting in town would have been open to anyone who wanted to attend, giving GlencoreXstrata a chance to ‘clear the air’.

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.

GlencoreXstrata 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.

GlencoreXstrata 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’ since the closure of the mine, many say if the operation remains closed until 2014 some won’t survive.

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

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

A spokesperson for Glencore told Australian Mining this morning that an agreement with the union was "some way off".

"We are very disappointed by the union’s intransigence and, as a result, remain some way off finalising new, modern, flexible workplace agreements – similar to those in place at our other coal mines in Queensland – that are essential for the mine to re-start operations and have a viable, long-term future," the spokesperson said.

The spokeperson added that Glencore was committed to holding meetings with locals.

"…earlier this week we met with a number of local landowners; next week we will meet with local indigenous groups; and shortly after that we will meet with a number of local Collinsville business owners," he said.

"The purpose of these meetings is to provide a comprehensive update on the current situation; repeat our willingness to invest in the future of the Collinsville mine – with new, modern, flexible workplace arrangements; and address any questions or concerns that members of each group may have. "

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

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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