Forty-one jobs have been slashed from Wollongong Coal’s Russell Vale colliery following a workforce restructure.
The job cut fears first revealed by the Mercury on March 28 were realised late on Tuesday when Wollongong Coal chief operating officer Dave Stone confirmed 13 voluntary and 28 forced redundancies.
‘‘The restructure is a direct outcome of the inability to operate our longwall past the current approved 356 metres of longwall 6, with the situation causing fiscal stress on the business,’’ Mr Stone said.
‘‘We have endeavoured to minimise the effect on our employees and will continue to engage 181 employees as we progress with the approval process for the Underground Expansion Project.
‘‘Given the current pressures nationally on the coal industry and taking into account the delayed approvals for our extensions we have had to make these tough but necessary decisions to ensure the survival of the mine.’’
CFMEU south-western district vice-president Bob Timbs described the move as a slap in the face of workers.
‘‘In particular with what we’ve gone through ... the resilience and what the guys have put into the place over the past 18 months to keep it afloat, it’s very disappointing that it’s led to forced redundancies,’’ Mr Timbs said.
‘‘The contributing factor is that there’s no approvals to mine; the union’s look at it is if there were approvals to mine obviously this wouldn’t happen.
‘‘The company and the powers that be, need to get together and expedite that process without undermining any of the normal protocols that should be adhered to such as consideration to the environment and the public.’’
Mr Timbs said members who no longer had a job would be supported with a redundancy workshop next week.
The Mercury revealed in March that voluntary redundancies had been offered to a workforce already reduced to a shadow of its former size by years of financial troubles and uncertainty over the miner’s future.
Mr Stone said the company was working closely with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment and the federal Department of Environment to ‘‘gain the expansion project approval to ensure the viability of Wollongong Coal’’.