Coal workers threatened with mass sackings
By Sean Moysey
WOLLONGONG — Metropolitan Colliery in Helensburgh threatened on March 14 to sack 70 workers unless seven workers targeted by the colliery's owners, Denehurst, resign and accept a redundancy package.
The seven workers received letters stating, "You are an employee with whom we believe we cannot work. Accordingly we prefer that you agree to end your employment with Metropolitan Collieries Limited on the terms and conditions set out below."
The company considers the seven as possible obstructions to changes to award conditions initiated by the company.
Seventy other workers out of 135 at Metropolitan were sent letters by the company aimed at increasing the pressure on the seven to resign.
The United Mineworkers (UMW) set up pickets outside the entrance of Metropolitan and is preparing for a district stoppage if the company continues its drive to sack or remove the workers. The dispute is currently being heard by the Arbitration Commission.
Wollongong City Council and the South Coast Labour Council condemned Metropolitan Colliery management.
A UMW district official said that Denehurst is using the same tactics against workers in Western Australian mines in order to "break the spirit of everyone to get individual contracts".