Lithgow and Newcastle workers take fight for pay to Centennial CEO in Sydney.
Lithgow and Newcastle coal workers – who were not paid their full redundancy entitlements when they were retrenched on the basis that they were over 58 years old – will took their fight for justice to the CEO of the company they once worked for, Centennial Coal, at the company’s headquarters, at 1 Market St, Sydney.
The courageous group of eight coal workers from Lithgow and Newcastle, together with their wives, will also try to present David Moult CEO of Centennial Coal, with a petition signed by more than 3,000 members of the local community.
Collieries Staff and Officers Association director Catherine Bolger said the workers “were coming to Sydney to get justice and to ensure this does not happen to anyone else”.
“This is classic example of corporate giant, ripping off workers after years of loyal service and leaving them financially bereft in their old age.
“These men have worked for Centennial for over 20 or 30 years, and now after all that loyalty, they’ve been retrenched, denied their full entitlements and face old age without money they are rightfully owed.
“In the spirit of Daryl Kerrigan in The Castle, these workers are standing up to the big end of town and a heartless corporate that thinks it can rob them of what they are rightfully owed.
“Many of these workers are parents and grandparents. Imagine if this happened to someone in your family, it is just not right and it’s time for Centennial to come to its senses and do the right thing by these workers.
“Centennial’s refusal to pay proper redundancy entitlements is disgusting. We call on Centennial to stop this petty, miserly and mean-spirited age discrimination. Centennial is the only company in the coal industry that has done this – they deserve to be shamed.
“It is difficult to understand why Centennial has taken such a hardline approach. Centennial once prided itself on treating employees who live and work locally to their mines, like family. They need to live up to these words and pay older workers full entitlements.
“These workers have been loyal; they have helped deliver years of profits for Centennial..
“Centennial has made a bad situation, much worse. These workers have had the rug pulled out from under them; it is only fair that they are paid for what they have rightfully earned.
The Australian Human Rights Commission reviewed the case and found that Centennial’s refusal to pay redundancy payments to older workers appeared to be discriminatory, referring the matter to a hearing of the full bench of the Fair Work Commission on Monday 16 February. The Fair Work Commission will determine if the reduction and removal of redundancy payments to older workers breaches the Age Discrimination Act and should be amended in the Black Coal Mining Industry Award 2010.
Ms Bolger said that she hoped Centennial would come to its senses and give older workers justice and appropriate payment for the years they have served.
Stephen Jackson worked for Centennial for 22 of years before he was retrenched. Losing his job was bad enough, but when he didn’t receive redundancy entitlements because he was over the age of 60, he said “It was a real slap in the face, I worked hard for Centennial and in the end it meant nothing”.
Mr Jackson said, “The local community have been great, they are behind us one hundred percent. We hope Centennial see that the community thinks what they have done is wrong”.
Peter Buttgieg was planning to continue working for as long as he could to save for his retirement but was told recently he won’t have work after March 28th. He has been told he will not receive any retrenchment pay from Centennial because of his age.
“I had no intentions of retiring; I wanted to keep working, I am 65, finding work in a regional town at my age will almost be impossible,” said Mr Buttgieg.
In the meantime, these courageous workers will continue to stand up to a corporate giant that has refused to pay entitlements on the basis of their age.
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