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Mining company slashes jobs and wages at coal mine

Illawarra Metallurgical Coal
Illawarra Metallurgical Coal

A globally diversified metal producer is axing dozens of workers in a new bid to cut costs at its coal operation in New South Wales’ Macarthur region.

South32 reportedly told contractor Southern Colliery Maintenance to disband its workforce and ordered CH4 Drilling to let go 30 specialist gas drainage operators who were working at the Appin Underground Coal Mine, 80km southwest of Sydney.

Labour hire push

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) revealed the proponent is also planning to reduce the wages of remaining 120 staff by only employing them through labour hire provider WorkPac Group, which Fair Work Australia recently found to be using long-term casualisation to avoid paying leave entitlements.

South32 previously retrenched 250 contractors from Nexus Mining and Mastermyne Group, and many of them have since been rehired through WorkPac at reduced pay rates, lower performance incentives and no quarterly retention bonus according to the union.

“It is like Groundhog Day from hell for workers at Appin after South32 sacked hundreds of contractors in May and June,” CFMEU mining and energy south western district vice president Bob Timbs said in a public statement.

“The root of the problem is the mining companies are not obliged to directly employ people on site agreements or provide the same pay for the same work. South32 has shown we cannot rely on mining multinationals to do the right thing [and] that is why we need stronger workplace laws.”

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In announcing its full-year results, South32 confirmed that its Appin dual longwall plan for the 2021 to 2024 financial years included plans to increase efficiency and lower mining costs through “reduced labour and longwall set up requirements”.

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