Protestors fill Greymouth streets
Tue, 04 Sep 2012 12:31p.m.
By 3 News online staff and Krissy Moreau
Around 1000 protestors hit the streets of Greymouth this afternoon, angry at the possible closure of Solid Energy’s Spring Creek mine.
Protestors carried flags and placards – one read “Save daddy’s job”.
Solid Energy suspended operations at the mine – one of the town’s biggest employers – last week to review its future, putting more than 200 jobs in jeopardy.
“The whole community here relies on this mine,” says diesel fitter Peter McGill. “It puts something between $37 and 40 million into the local economy. So as you can imagine with a small town like this, it's a huge amount of money.”
“It's our livelihood,” says miner Daryl Sweetman. “It's everything for us today. We've got to get the news out.”
The union fears for the community.
“It's got the potential to turn this town into a ghost town if they should shut down,” says EPMU West Coast organiser Garth Elliot.
Miners at today’s protest told 3 News they would seek jobs in Australia if the mine closed permanently.
“We'll have to,” says Mr Sweetman. “I've got no other trade. A lot of the boys are in the same boat – young families, mortgage to the hilt.”
Australian mine companies have even started advertising for jobs in the local newspaper.
Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn was part of the march and says the ordeal is another “kick in the guts” for the district after the Pike River mine disaster.
“Coasters are fearful,” says Mr Kokshoom. “They’ve had a tough time. They don't want any more redundancies.”
A slump in international coal prices is behind Solid Energy's cost-cutting strategy. Two-hundred workers have already been put out of work, Coasters worried they will be next.
Bernie Monk, who lost a son in Pike River, made a moving speech at the protest. Fighting back tears he said it was inspiring to see the town rally behind the miners.
“The Pike River families want to stand up and be heard, because people have stood up for us for the last 22 months, and we're going to do the same for them,” he said.
Mr Monk was joined by National MP Chris Auchinvole and Labour MP Damien O’Connor as well as union representatives. No representatives from Spring Creek were at the protest.
There was a small police presence but no arrests were made.
The coal miners have a two-week window to get their message to the top, with the workers’ union meeting again this week to discuss their next plan of attack.
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4/09/2012 4:37:29 p.m.
National sent a representative lol... oh now thats funny and hypocritical all in the same instance.
National have done nothing to combat the over inflated dollar and help exporters which is one of the primary reasons that Solid Energy is looking at closing the Spring Creek Mine.
4/09/2012 4:04:16 p.m.
the work isn't there neither is the money. No company should be forced to keep people employed when there is no work for them and no government should have to finance such a stupid thing. As for claims they will have to move to aussie, massive mining lay offs are to be announced in australia in the coming months. This is already known by some mines.
4/09/2012 3:09:33 p.m.
It was very moving to be a part of the march today. This is a community that time after time stands together when it counts, and the police, werent there to arrest anyone, there was no sense of trouble, but they did marshal traffic and kept thing safe and we appreciated them being there.
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