GlencoreXstrata tell Collinsville locals the mine may not reopen until 2014

GlencoreXstrata have told Collinsville community members that the coal mine will not reopen until early 2014 if new employee arrangements cannot be finalised.

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

The CRG were told the changes are designed to improve labour and equipment productivity.

The local community have become increasingly concerned that their town may go under after the closure of the mine in early September.

GlencoreXstrata initially announced that it would take control over the mine away from the contractor Thiess in February, moving to an owner-operator model.

The 400 workers were told their contracts would end in August and have since faced an uncertain future as GlencoreXstrata have not guaranteed preference to the existing workforce.  

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.

In a statement released by the company today, the miner said continued delays in finalising new workplace agreements" may result in the mine’s return to production being delayed until early 2014”.

A spokesman for Glencore told Australian Mining the company first approached the CFMEU about new agreements in February, but that a solution had not yet been reached.

“To facilitate start-up, Glencore will begin a recruitment process in the coming weeks, advertising for positions within the local communities,” Glencore said.

New employees are expected to be sourced from Scottsville, Collinsville, Bowen and Glenden with the company saying that former employees can re-apply for positions.

However 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”.

Smyth said the multi-national miner is not being transparent in its dealings with the workforce or the town adding that he feels for the local businesses which may not have until 2014.

“They won’t last till Christmas”, Smyth said.

“You can reorganise a mine, but you cannot rebuild a community.”

Daniel Rochford from Whitsundays Marketing and Development said the situation among businesses in the community is ‘dire’.

“Business owners have told us some horror stories in terms of turnover and it diminishing quickly in Collinsville,” Rochford told Australian Mining.

"Some businesses that had been trading at $2,500 a day have gone down to $100."

The miner is accused of using bullying tactics with claims that it has little intention of hiring CFMEU members back onto site, making any employee agreement with union members of little consequence.

Glencore said it appreciates the impacts the suspension of operations was having on the community, but the “changes being proposed were designed to return the mine to higher levels of productivity and long-term profitability”, in turn supporting the local community.

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