Apprentices for Peabody Energy were given no warning before they were told to immediately leave their job sites last Thursday.
Senior Peabody mine staff dismissed apprentices from the North Goonyella, Coppabella, Millenium and Moorvale open-cut coal mines; around 18 apprentices fired in total.
CFMEU district president for mining and energy Steve Smyth told the Daily Mercury the move was “a disgrace”.
“Cutting costs this way is unacceptable. What they would save is a pittance. Peabody would spend more money on its Christmas drinks,” he said.
A spokesperson for Peabody Energy has refused to confirm the number of apprentices sacked, stating that the workers were sent back to their employing contractor, MRAEL Group in Mackay.
Peabody Energy said it had conducted a comprehensive review of its apprenticeship program based on the operational needs of the business and current market conditions.
“Peabody has made the decision to reduce the number of apprentices we host at our Australian operations,” a statement said.
“We understand that this decision will have an impact on the effected apprentices, their families and colleagues.”
Peabody Energy has recently announced it will extend the life of its North Wambo underground coal mine by six months with the development of an additional longwall.