Wollongong Coal asks miners go forgo wages

Wollongong Coal has asked its workers to go without pay until a stop-gap mining solution is approved by the New South Wales government.

Formerly known as Gujarat NRE, Wollongong Coal wants to start mining its longwall 6 before final government approval is granted on a major extension proposed last year.

As part of that application, which is expected to be determine later this year, the mine’s life would be extended by five years and coal production would increase to 4.7 million tonnes per annum.

However the company says unless it is given permission to mine a 400 metre block of longwall 6 in the interim, it may have to shut the operation.

During a meeting with its workers this morning, the company asked them to forgo wage payments until that permission is granted.

Employees voted against the deal and the Illawarra Mercury reported this could mean the loss of up to 45 jobs across both the company’s Wongawilli and Russell Vale operations.

With an operational review also underway, the number of retrenched workers is likely to increase.

The paper said some workers plan to resign, while others are looking for work elsewhere as the coal company continues to be plagued by operational issues.

Last year whilst under the management of Arun Jagatramka, workers suffered through almost two months without pay before Jindal Steel took over the company.

This year the bad luck continues for the company with a roof collapse meaning it cannot continue mining operations at the Wongawilli site.

The Mercury said a longwall mining machine, valued at over $10 million, was buried as a result of the collapse and will not be able to be recovered.

Meanwhile, permission from the government to commence mining a 400m piece of the longwall early will be a tough ask as the project receives strong opposition from Wollongong Council and other concerned parties.

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