Wollongong Coal proposes workers go without pay

Wollongong Coal’s 300-strong workforce could lose 45 jobs after they were again asked to go without being paid - this time until the company wins approval for a new longwall section to be mined at Russell Vale.

The Mercury understands that at a meeting in Russell Vale on Friday morning, workers rejected a proposal put to them that they forgo a recent 4.5 per cent pay rise, and accept the deferment of their pay until the modification of the permission to mine Longwall 6 is approved.

They voted against the plan in the knowledge it could mean more jobs would go.

It was not clear how many jobs would go as a redundancy program is also being conducted and numbers have not been finalised, but workers were told it would likely be somewhere between 40 and 50.

Given the offer to take a wage cut and defer payment for an undefined period, there will be a spike in applications for redundancy before the offer closes this afternoon.

Several men have already said they would go up to the mine site and resign today, while others have started looking for work at other mines.

But with the price of coal sinking, coal mining jobs are not as plentiful as they were four years ago.

The longwall approval is far from certain, with two NSW government agencies having lodged their opposition to the longwall modification.

Wollongong Coal has been unable to mine coal at its Wongawilli site since March when a roof collapse buried its longwall mining machine there.

Multiple sources have told the Mercury the machine, valued at tens of millions of dollars, is unrecoverable.

Without income from its southern mine, Wollongong Coal is unable to generate enough income to cover the Russell Vale No.1 colliery once its permission to mine the current longwall expires.

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