Solid Energy suspends mine operations, cuts jobs
Wed, 29 Aug 2012 3:16p.m.
By 3 News online staff
Struggling state-owned enterprise Solid Energy has announced major job cuts and suspended operations at its Spring Creek Mine on the West Coast.
Around 230 workers are employed by the mine.
Solid Energy also announced 63 jobs will go at Huntly Mine in the Waikato, and 60 "mainly contracting roles" will go at the mine’s ventilation upgrade project.
The company issued a statement this afternoon and says the restructuring was in response to “extremely challenging” market conditions.
“The changes are designed to absorb the impact of the global coal market downturn by introducing operating efficiencies to preserve and generate cash, while retaining core capability and future options for growth,” Solid Energy said in the statement.
Solid Energy posted a $200 million loss in the last financial year, and falling coal prices have forced a company-wide review.
Two weeks ago Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder revealed Spring Creek Mine has been losing more than $5 million a month and its operations were under review, leaving miners worried for their jobs and locals worried about what that would mean for their town.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says it could be a big problem for the area.
“Miners are on large wages and when they lose a job here they will chase the high wages in Australia, because we can't match those wages in other industries.”
He says Solid Energy needs to value the coast's miners, because if coal prices rise they'll be needed again.
Mr Kokshoorn says the town's already lost too many workers. Most of Pike River's former employees went overseas when that mine shut after the tragic explosion in 2010.
“We lost 150 workers, most went to Australia and the same will happen again, it was only last week the Australian companies were advertising for miners here in our paper. So yes if they lose those miners, it will be extremely hard to get them back.”
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, which represents employees at the mines, says it will fight the cuts.
“This is a drastic decision that will have a huge impact not just on miners and their families but also the communities that rely on these jobs and the income they bring in," says national secretary Ged O’Connell.
“Under this proposal anyone who wants to stay in underground mining would have little option but to move to Australia, and once they’re gone it’ll be very hard to get them back."
He says the EPMU's collective employment agreement, Solid Energy has to "engage in meaningful consultation with staff, and any union members made redundant will be entitled to notice and compensation".
“Our priority now is to get together with our members, look at Solid Energy’s business case and see whether there are any alternatives that don’t involve such drastic cuts,” says Mr O'Connell.
“We need to be sure that these proposals are driven by genuine business reasons, and not simply to prepare the company for sale.”
Solid Energy is one the state-owned assets the Government has indicated it is looking to partially sell.
Other changes announced today by Solid Energy include:
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1/09/2012 8:56:42 p.m.
Phil Smith wrote:
The day they announced the redundancies, administrative staff in Chch were paid bonuses. No kidding.
30/08/2012 12:11:18 p.m.
This is shocking! What is going to happy to NZ??? But 3 News should also look at a few other companies doing the same, right now Norske Skog Tasman in Kawerau is also in consultation of letting about 100 to 140 employees go?SCA tissue kawerau also just let about 30 to 40 employees go.... Why is this not on the news as well??
29/08/2012 5:11:52 p.m.
How many more companies are going to cut staff to make their bottom line look better, maybe it's time to look at the idiots that are running these organisations and started halving the crazy salaries, clearly they are not earning what they are being paid. Now we will have the air heads in Wellington telling people to get a job. There won't be any jobs left soon except for the chosen few overpaid airheads.
29/08/2012 4:45:09 p.m.
Yay government run companies! Sell it. Sell it fast.
29/08/2012 3:50:50 p.m.
J. Jamieson wrote:
So sad that the West Coast has been hit yet again. Forestry, Pike, now Solid Energry. More people on the dole (hard working ones) so more people losing digity and self respect infront of their children. Children growing up seeing that hard work gets you nowhere and yet again time to go without. Yet watching some of the hierarchy land in helicoptors so much money has been wasted and not by the staff underground. Good luck guys you deserve a break
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