Older workers made redundant at Centennial Mine will launch legal proceedings in the Federal Court tomorrow to retrieve retrenchment entitlements the company has refused to pay workers over 60yrs.
Ms Catherine Bolger, director of the Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association, the union that represents mine supervisors and staff, said that Centennial’s refusal to pay redundancy entitlements was “mean-spirited and miserly”.
“These older workers are very disappointed that they need to go to court to get paid what they are owed. They feel that Centennial has abandoned them after years of loyal service.
“These workers have tried to negotiate with Centennial since October, but the company has refused to budge.
Ms Bolger said that having exhausted all other options the workers were now “going to court to get a fair go – a fair go that Centennial should have provided months ago”.
“It is difficult to understand why Centennial has taken such a hardline approach. It is even more disappointing, given that Centennial once prided itself on treating employees as family.
“These workers are struggling to reconcile years of loyal service, with the harsh treatment being doled out by the company now.
“This has certainly left a sour taste in the mouth of many of these workers.
“These workers should be fairly paid for their years of service, many of whom have served Centennial loyally for over thirty years.
Ms Bolger said that Centennial’s refusal to pay retrenchment pay to workers aged over 60 was upsetting, particularly in light of the company’s February announcement that its Australian operations had made a $213.97 million (USD) gross profit in 2013 (Banpu News Release, 19 February, 2013 Results Highlight, page 5).
Historically, retirement was compulsory at 60 years of age in the coal industry. As a result, the Black Coal Award 2010 (clause 14.4.c), sets out redundancy conditions for workers to the age of 60 years, but not beyond. With the retirement age now commonly 65 years and beyond, Ms Bolger said that Centennial had “acted without any form of compassion” in citing this obscure clause.
“Many in the industry see this as discriminatory. It is particularly penny-pinching given that the company is withholding entitlements.
Ms Bolger said that she hoped tomorrow’s lodgement would deliver these workers some justice and appropriate payment for years served.
“These workers have been loyal; they have helped deliver years of profits for Centennial. Yet, now in return the company is quibbling over their retrenchment pay.
“The reality is that as older workers these staff will find it hard to get another job. This action aims to retrieve payments that these workers have rightfully earned.”