HUNTER CFMEU president Peter Jordan has labelled the behaviour of BHP management as ‘‘appalling’’ after he said the union and its members were informed last about more than 160 jobs being cut from Mount Arthur coalmine.
Mr Jordan told the Newcastle Herald on Thursday night the union was ‘‘annoyed and angered’’ by the way the company chose to announce the bad news, which has delivered another significant blow to the Hunter Valley’s coal industry.
‘‘The union and its members found out about these job cuts through the media,’’ Mr Jordan said.
‘‘BHP put a press release out during the day, but had an embargo on it until 5pm, but that doesn’t stop media outlets from chasing up comment from people like myself earlier. We’re pretty angry about the way BHP, and Mount Arthur management in particular, have gone about this. The company sent the union an email about 3pm, but only after we had made inquiries.’’
Mr Jordan said the normal practice was for the union to be kept in the loop about any possible redundancies or job losses.
In a statement BHP NSW energy coal asset president Peter Sharpe said the cuts were a result of a lower coal price and high Australian dollar, which continued to squeeze the margins of Australia’s miners.
‘‘The coal industry continues to experience difficult market conditions... and in order to remain globally competitive, the cost base of our Mt Arthur Coal operations must be reset,’’ Mr Sharpe said.
‘‘The purpose of this transformation exercise is to ensure that our operations remain sustainable for the long-term, and we will continue to assess opportunities and make the necessary adjustments.’’
Mr Jordan said despite being involved in talks with the company about the enterprise bargaining agreement, the issue of possible redundancies had not come up.
He said he did not believe Mount Arthur was reducing the work force and instead thought the company would replace full-time staff with casual contractor labour.