Mining companies exaggerate downturn to cut jobs: union
UNIONS fear greater Queensland job losses after global mining giant Xstrata confirmed on Friday 95 positions would be slashed from its Collinsville mine, north-west of Mackay, by the end of January.
This is on top of the 600 job cuts it announced in September for regional Queensland, Brisbane and Sydney.
Xstrata Coal blamed poor coal prices for the job cuts at its Collinsville mine site, run by contractor Thiess.
"Due to the downturn in coal prices we have been working with Thiess to review mining operations at Collinsville and, as a result, we expect 95 Thiess positions will be made redundant in January," Xstrata Coal told News Ltd.
Thiess said it had "left no stone unturned" in examining all options for retaining as many staff as possible.
"A reduction in the mine fleet has made redundancies unavoidable," it said.
"Thiess is continuing to identify opportunities to redeploy a number of these employees to other projects."
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union spokesman Steve Pierce said Xstrata and other mining companies were exaggerating the severity of the downturn in export coal prices to justify job cuts.
"They're saying that the market is shot, the industry is dead," he said.
"Well, they are still making in excess of $100 a tonne for coal that three or four years ago was getting $40 and $50 a tonne for, so they are still making damn good profits.
"We need to dispel the myths that is being perpetrated by the coal industry that they are going broke."
Mr Pierce said the move was pure greed and short-term thinking.
"It is really a mercenary decision in our view by Xstrata to protect their profits," he said.
CFMEU had been working with Thiess for five weeks to avert the job losses, Mr Pierce said.
"No doubt mid-next year... we're going to have Xstrata whingeing there's not enough skilled people in Australia and potentially wanting to bring foreign workers back into the country."