Workers laid off from the Russell Vale mine should be the first taken back on if operations restart, according to a section in the workplace deal Wollongong Coal is seeking to terminate.
Most of the workforce was retrenched in September 2015 because the miner did not have planning permission to continue cutting coal at what is known as the No.1 colliery.
That consent to mine has still not been achieved, but Wollongong Coal has applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the workplace agreement so if operations resume, they can engage a new workforce on more “efficient” terms.
Read more: FWC hearing over termination bid
But this would be contrary to the agreement signed between workers and management seven years ago – the NRE No 1 Colliery Workplace Agreement 2011.
Section 18 of that agreement includes the term “When the company decides to recruit employees, then ex-NRE No. 1 Colliery employees who were made redundant involuntarily shall be re-employed.”
This was provided that they are former full-time workers, applying for full-time jobs, and they have the necessary skills and experience to do the job.
South Coast Labor Council secretary Arthur Rorris blasted the miner on social media, saying the termination bid was part of a drive towards casualised workforces in the mining industry.
“So the bosses want a coal mine without any permanent miners?” he said. “What do we owe these [people]?
“The only thing we get out of this dirty, dangerous industry is jobs in our region. If they’re not even going to give us that they may as well keep it shut.”
The miners’ union, the CFMEU, is opposing the bid.
Comment was sought from Wollongong Coal.
Wollongong Coal’s Wongawilli mine is run by a casual labor hire workforce.