Wollongong Coal is trying to terminate its workplace agreement for the Russell Vale colliery so if it restarts mining there, it will be able to employ a workforce on more “efficient” terms.
The miner has applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the deal, which was due to expire in 2015, but with opposition from the mineworkers union a hearing was held in Sydney on Wednesday.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) District Vice-President Bob Timbs said Wollongong Coal (WCL) had already replaced the permanent workforce at its Wongawilli mine with casual labour-hire workers.
“Wollongong Coal is on a mission to restart the Russell Vale mine using low-paid casual workers rather than a permanent workforce,” Mr Timbs said. “If they have their way they will be running their mines with no permanent workers at all.”
There are no employees at Russell Vale who would be affected, WCL’s Brian Almeida told the Commission in a statutory declaration.
But it it were to ramp up work again, WLC does not want to be bound by the terms of the workplace agreement.
“Even if the colliery were to obtain approval to permit the recommencement of operations in the future, which is speculative, the applicant would not be able to justify to the company’s investors and shareholders to recommence operations under the terms of the agreement which are inefficient … and do not support productivity,” Mr Almeida said.
Mr Timbs said when mining ceased at Russell Vale in 2015, WCL told those workers made forcibly redundant that they “would be the first ones to be re-employed at the mine when production restarted”.