Stockton redundancy details still being finalised

Solid Energy says it can't yet reveal how many of the Stockton mineworkers losing their jobs are being made to go, how many have volunteered to go, and how many of those offers have been accepted.

Union members received preliminary advice today on who has jobs and who doesn't. They were supposed to be told last Monday but the announcements were postponed, reportedly because about 100 - many more than anticipated - had sought voluntary redundancy.

All-up, the mine is cutting 185 workers - 135 Stockton Alliance employees and 50 contractor employees - from its 640-strong workforce.

Stakeholder relations manager Vicki Blyth declined to answer questions today about how many of the 135 were being laid off and how many were seeking voluntary redundancy. She said definitive numbers wouldn't be available until the restructure was finalised.

Only those workers employed under the collective agreement with the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union received their preliminary advice today, Ms Blyth said. Workers would have a week to appeal the preliminary decisions.

Solid Energy was still working through the selection process for contestable roles with other employees.

It was also still finalising approvals for voluntary redundancy.

Those made redundant finish work immediately, while those accepted for voluntary redundancy have to work a month's notice.

Asked why, Ms Blyth said workers granted voluntary redundancy should be able to fully focus on their work for the notice period, but those made redundant might not be able to.

"As a result we have decided that it would be better for these employees not to return to work."

As well, under the terms of their collective agreement, employees granted voluntary redundancy were required to work out their notice period.

However, if asked, Solid Energy would consider on a case-by-case basis individual requests to leave early from those who have been accepted for voluntary redundancy, she said.

"We do not expect any problems in relation to employees working short notice provided that they have made the necessary arrangements with their manager."

A Stockton worker told the Westport News earlier this week that an overwhelming number of experienced mineworkers had volunteered for redundancy because they were fed up with the mine and the way it was managed.

He said it looked likely a number of those who had volunteered would be declined redundancy.

An information day for affected Stockton workers will be held at Westport's NBS Theatre tomorrow. They'll be told about job opportunities, what is on offer in Christchurch, and government assistance available.

Ms Blyth said about eight employers were attending, both from the West Coast and Canterbury, and another five employers were providing information packs.

A couple of recruitment agencies would also be there, she said.

- By Lee Scanlon of the Westport News 

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