Tas mineworkers form unemployed group
By Ian Jamieson
ROSEBERY, Tas — About 60 people have joined the newly formed West Coast Unemployed Workers Union, set up on the initiative of mineworkers retrenched by Pasminco, a North Broken Hill subsidiary.
The group hopes to promote job creation projects for hundreds of west coast residents dumped by the mining companies. UWU president Peter Causon says it's important that the unemployed organise themselves rather than rely on government agencies.
The UWU has already forged strong links with local unions to increase its bargaining position with mining companies and to limit the possibilities of employers trying to use the jobless to break conditions in the work force. Both the UWU and local unions are also on the watch against unscrupulous contractors bringing in outside labour to undercut conditions.
One of the challenges facing the UWU is the insistence of most companies on dealing exclusively with contractors rather than hiring directly. To deal with this, the UWU will assist in the creation of a contracting firm to act as a labour exchange.
"The companies' insistence on dealing with contractors is really rubbing salt into the wound", says Causon. "After sacking us on economic grounds last year, the likes of Pasminco now expect us to fork out our money to create a contracting business that is fully insured, covered for superannuation and long service leave provisions, payroll tax etc, just so we can beg for jobs.
"Still, we'll have to bite the bullet if we
want to create opportunities for ourselves, particularly the younger members with no work experience. We intend to keep the UWU independent from the business."
Together with similar groups nationally, the UWU is also seeking discussions with CES and DSS concerning training programs, which currently don't exist on the west coast. Causon hopes funds will be available to create an unemployed centre, which can be used for skill sharing and other community activities.