Union vows to continue the fight for ex-Collinsville workers

The CFMEU has vowed to continue its fight against multi-national miner Glencore after claims only four locals have been given their jobs back at Collinsville mine.

Glencore is planning to reopen the mine later this month, but the union says promises by the miner to hire from within the local community have been unfounded with most to come from FIFO or DIDO.

“Despite Glencore saying they’ll rehire locals to our knowledge only three to four locals have been rehired,” CFMEu district senior vice president Mitch Hughes told Australian Mining.

“Workers are devastated, they’ve got all the experience required but they’ve been locked out.”

Glencore has slammed the claims, stating the majority of workers rehired are local ex workers.

“Our plan is to commence operations from January 28 with a group of approximately 50 production workers and maintainers, which will include our own employees as well as labour hire contractors,” the company said.

“We are honouring our stated aim of utilising skills available locally; a high percentage of this initial start-up group is either from the local communities or the Collinsville mine’s previous Thiess workforce.”

The company says this phased approach to the recruitment process will continue until the mine is ramped up to full production by the end of this year.

“Those candidates who were not selected as part of the initial intake have been advised that we will retain their details and review their suitability for subsequent recruitment intakes as the ramp-up continues,” the miner said.

However the CFMU says Glencore, along with the labour hire contractor, has little intention of sourcing local workers claiming the move is an attempt to disband the union’s footprint in the region.

“We had one guy with 30 years plus experience that received a letter stating he was unsuccessful on the basis that he didn’t have the experience Glencore was looking for,” Hughes said.

“There is a lot of angst and anger in the town.

“What they’ve done is killing the community.”

Tensions in the small Collinsville community started to simmer when Glencore took over as owner-operator of the mine, stating that it was pushing to make the operation viable.

As a result, 400 workers were notified by Thiess that their employment contract would end on August 31, with Glencore refusing to give preference to the previous workforce.  

The mine closed in early September, leaving 400 people out of work, 160 of which live in the Collinsville community.

Since then a rift has emerged between locals angered at the decision and the company who say the move was imperative for the mine’s future viability.

Glencore say previous workplace agreements are restrictive and want to re-hire workers under differing contracts which are “modern and flexible”.

Other changes it says are imperative in keeping the mine viable is the introduction of larger equipment, a new mining plan and addressing restrictions to the CHPP.

However the CFMU remains unconvinced and has reaffirmed its commitment to take legal action against the miner.

"We are looking into every legal avenue we can," Hughes said.

“We won’t stop until we get a result.”

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