Gujarat prospects look grim: Evans

The Illawarra community should brace for more bad news over the troubled miner Gujarat NRE Coking Coal, Member for Heathcote Lee Evans said yesterday.

A day after the company announced plans to remove one-fifth of its workforce in a restructure, Mr Evans said he believed those 90 jobs would probably not be the last to go from the Russell Vale and Wongawilli mines.

And that meant an uncertain Christmas for many workers who had stuck with the company this year, even turning up for work when they were not being paid.

Workers 'betrayed' as Gujarat sheds 90 jobs

"To be truthful, I don't think it's going to survive.

"We're facing a complete close-down. I think that would probably be expected," Mr Evans said.

"I sympathise with anyone that's losing their job and it's the worst time of year.

"I believe this is just the beginning of a very sad story, because I don't think they've got the wherewithal to pull themselves out of the hole."

Mr Evans said Gujarat's troubles would hit the community hard.

"It's not just people that go down the pit. It's everybody that's involved in it.

"It's a very wide net it throws, and it's going to affect the local community greatly.

"We've got to try and redirect those workers into another career.

"It really concerns me that it seems to be happening all at once."

Workers have until December 23 to apply for redundancies. Redundant workers will leave by January 17.

Gujarat NRE did not pay wages for almost two months from September 18 and failed to make superannuation payments from March, causing some families to turn to charity or union hardship funds for food vouchers.

Yesterday, the Collieries Staff and Officials Association, which represents 94 Gujarat workers, met with the company to discuss redundancies.

Organiser Tom Pacey called on the company to do the right thing.

"We do have genuine concerns that the company is cutting corners around redundancy. These workers have endured a lot this year. It's now time for Gujarat NRE to do the right thing."

Mr Evans said the miner would be wrong to try to use the threat of job cuts to pressure the Planning Department to approve its expansion plans.

"In all honesty, the pressure that's been put on Planning to okay it because that will get us out of this hole, it's just not feasible," he said.

"We don't just okay things because it's going to fix a debt problem."

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