Job cuts likely if shift changes rejected
By Alastair Bull
Solid Energy says it may have to consider job cuts at its Stockton mine on the West Coast if staff aren't prepared to accept fewer hours.
The state-owned mining company is meeting with staff on Thursday to discuss options after Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) members last month rejected cutting shifts from 12 hours to 10 hours.
Solid Energy spokesman Bryn Somerville says the company needs to take cost out of its Stockton mine to get back to profitability due to lower world coal prices which led to more than 400 job losses across its Huntly, Spring Creek and head office sites earlier this year.
He says the company wants to keep all the staff on, but needs to cut the shifts as a result.
"They decided they didn't want to do that," Mr Somerville said.
"Obviously we've had to think about what the alternative would be."
When asked if job losses were another option to reduce cost, Mr Somerville said yes, but nothing has been finalised yet.
"It's a reach to say that this is going to happen. It's correct to say that the company is considering this as a secondary plan if we're not able to achieve what we think is the best solution."
EPMU general secretary Ged O'Connell said the shift cut proposal was rejected after the company was asked to consider other issues raised during contract talks that were suspended earlier in the year.
"Unfortunately the employer didn't see that as a time to consider those, and rejected our proposal, so our blokes rejected theirs," he told NZ Newswire.
"But at the end of the day if it gets to the stage where jobs are on the line, obviously that needs to be considered."