Just six days before Christmas, Stockton opencast mine
workers could find out if they'll be celebrating or
They'll meet in Westport at 4pm tomorrow to again discuss
Solid Energy's plans to cut mine costs.
The company warned a fortnight ago that Stockton could suffer
"significant" job losses before Christmas unless machinery
operators agreed to change from 12-hour to 10-hour shifts.
Solid Energy communications director Vicki Blyth said
yesterday that the mine would suspend all operational work
tomorrow afternoon so workers on the collective agreement
could attend the meeting.
"That means that collective staff on site will leave about
3pm to attend the meeting and night shift staff will start on
shift after the meeting ends. This arrangement only affects
Solid Energy's general manager, opencast, Stephen Esposito,
would address the meeting which had been organised by the
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, Ms Blyth said.
Machinery operators voted 192-52 last month against the
10-hour shift proposal. They said it would cut their pay by
17 per cent - between $9000 and $13,000 a year.
Solid Energy said it would provide enough savings to keep the
mine viable. The company said Stockton had cut $32m from its
budget, but needed to save more.
The mine has already shed a substantial number of jobs. The
News revealed last week that it had 237 fewer workers on site
on December 5 than six months earlier. The number had fallen
from 1103 to 866 in that time, although the company noted
contractors' numbers fluctuate.
- By Lee Scanlon of the Westport News