An overwhelming number of experienced Stockton mineworkers
have volunteered for redundancy because they're fed up, says
Solid Energy is cutting 185 jobs among its own staff and
contractors at the mine. Workers had expected to find out
yesterday which of them were likely to have jobs, but the
announcement has been delayed until Thursday.
The Westport News understands that's because almost 100
workers want to take voluntary redundancy and the company
needs to ensure it has a suitable mix of skills and
A worker, who declined to be named, emailed The Westport News
today. He said his views were shared by a number of mine
He said an overwhelming number of experienced mineworkers,
supervisors and superintendents had volunteered for
redundancy as they were fed up with the mine and the way it
was managed. "It is looking likely that a number that have
volunteered will be declined redundancy and have to continue
working there. Workers just want to know what's happening and
are sick of waiting for answers."
Solid Energy chief executive Dan Clifford and mine manager
Michael Harrison met staff last Thursday to update them on
the mining industry and Solid Energy's financial status.
The worker said they had refused to discuss Solid Energy's
history and how much money the company had lost through
Mr Clifford had told the meeting Stockton was bleeding tens
of millions of dollars a year and wasn't servicing any of
Solid Energy's debt. He said the restructure was necessary to
ensure the mine continued. Cuts would probably continue if
the dollar stayed high and the international coking coal
price stayed low.
"They both faced angry reactions from staff to the arrogant
and combative way by which they addressed their audience,
with many walking away in disgust."
The Stockton Alliance - a partnership between Downer EDI
Mining and Solid Energy - had overcapitalised, the worker
Since its inception in 2010, the alliance had spent hundreds
of millions of dollars on new plant, vehicles and equipment.
The mine office block had quadrupled in size. The number of
management positions had grown "immensely" to support the
increasing paper war and the alliance's reporting structure.
"It seems fairly obvious that the position the mine is in
today is a result of this overcapitalisation in almost
exactly the same way Solid Energy spectacularly failed and
that the blame for this should be aimed squarely at mine
management," the worker said.
At the same time, the incomes of Stockton mineworkers had
reduced significantly through reduced hourly rates and
changed shift patterns.
Workers were also fed up with the "ongoing bullying tactics
and blame culture" employed by management.
Their union had managed only to negotiate terms and
The mine had had a high rate of suicide and depression. Its
experienced workforce had slowly diminished since the
alliance took over.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the place shut down completely in
the next 12 months."
- By Lee Scanlon of the Westport News