Cook Colliery highlights abuse of broken industrial system by unscrupulous mining giants

Published: 31 May 2017

The future of more than 150 workers at the Cook Colliery mine remains uncertain following two months without pay after a stand down period and the subsequent company-wide redundancies affecting local workers, their families and local community.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Division Queensland District Vice-President, Glenn Power said the Cook Colliery example highlights the abuse of a broken industrial relations system by unscrupulous mining giants that have an utter disregard for the local workers and their families.

“CC Pty Ltd – the Cook Colliery employer of our members – is one of five associated companies gone into administration. CC Pty Ltd has abused the current industrial relations system while the livelihood of workers and their families remain in limbo. How is that fair?” said Mr Power.

“If industrial laws, set up to protect workers, are being used to allow companies to wriggle out of paying workers their rightful entitlements – those laws need to change.

“Notwithstanding the apparent risks of the potential flooding to its underground sections of the mine, the company assured employees water would not be an issue before production kicked off. However shortly after longwall production started in 203 panel, a large body of water flooded the panel, causing a string of issues for the underground mine and workers.

“CC Pty Ltd funders have since cut off funding to the site in an attempt to protect its foreign investors. Meanwhile, Australian workers are left behind with no pay, no explanation and no certainty over their futures.

“Workers have been told they cannot access their long service leave or redundancy entitlements until the company goes into liquidation – and even then, there is no guarantee that workers will receive all funds owed to them.

“The majority of affected workers and their families have already suffered severe financial hardship of no income since 18 March 2017, where CC Pty Ltd imposed two-month standdown period without pay.  

“Australian workers deserve good, steady jobs. Our people deserve to know that they will receive the money they work hard to earn – but situations such as the one at Cook Colliery highlight that the system is broken and employers can exploit it.

“We have already tried to engage with the company and continue to meet with its administrators as workers and their families deserve to know where their next pay check will come from.

“It’s time the Government intervenes to make sure this cannot happen again. We call on the Federal Member for Flynn, Ken O’Dowd, to hold an urgent meeting with the administrators to address this issue, and to pay workers their hard-earned and long-overdue entitlements,” said Mr Power.