GlencoreXstrata will meet with Collinsville community members today to discuss the future of the coal mine as the company plans to begin recruiting for a 400-strong workforce in the coming weeks.
Following the closure of the coal mine earlier in September, a move which left 400 people out of work, a fight has erupted between the GlencoreXstrata, the unions and the local town.
GlencoreXstrata initially announced that it would take control over the mine away from the contractor Thiess in February, moving to an owner-operator model.
The 400 workers were told their contracts would end in August and have since faced an uncertain future as GlencoreXstrata have not guaranteed preference to the existing workforce.
Glencore say previous workplace agreements are restrictive and want to re-hire workers under differing contracts which are “modern and flexible”, a move which has angered the unions.
A spokesman for Glencore told Australian Mining the company first approached the CFMEU about new agreements in February, but that a solution had not yet been reached.
“We still haven’t been able to finalise new workplace agreements with the CFMEU and remain disappointed that is the case,” the spokesman said.
“The real issue for us is that the previous agreements are restrictive.
“We want remove those restrictions and have an agreement which is modern and flexible in line with other Queensland operations.”
Glencore argue that the mine has been unprofitable for the last 18 months, and say the closure is part of a transition phase that was attempting to keep the mine viable.
“It isn’t a viable enterprise unless we have a modern, flexible workplace agreement,” the spokesman said.
The spokesmen said the company is confident it will be able to identify a workforce from the local community that aligns with the new direction of the operation.
New employees are expected to be sourced from Scottsville, Collinsville, Bowen and Glenden.
A full page advertisement taken out by the miner in a local paper states that:
“In seeking to identify the ‘best person for the job’, our interviews can certainly include those who previously worked at the mine if they apply”.
The CFMEU have accused Glencore of being anti-union and anti -collective bargaining, stepping up their fight against the multi-national miner by announcing that it plans to take Glencore to court to block the miner from hiring new workers.
CFMEU national president Tony Maher said claims by Glencore that the mine is a greenfield site will not hold up in court.
“The old agreement still applies and we will prove that in court,” Maher said.
"But they just don't want the old workforce.
"As soon as they start employing, we will file a transmission of business order and we will win. It's all happened before."
Despite the industrial relations issues taking place, many of which will continue to be fought between the CFMEU and the miner itself, locals say the ramifications of the decision to close the mine are already being felt.
Daniel Rochford from Whitsundays Marketing and Development said the situation among businesses in the community is ‘dire’.
“Business owners have told us some horror stories in terms of turnover and it diminishing quickly in Collinsville,” Rochford told Australian Mining.
"Some businesses that had been trading at $2,500 a day have gone down to $100."
While Mining Communities United spokeswoman Donna Bulloch says the whole community is suffering.
“It’s really scary here right now: no one knows what’s happening,” Bulloch said.
“The local coffee shop lady told me she might have to close as there’s just not enough business.”
Glencore said they are conscious of the important role the mine plays in the community.
“We want to get the mine up and running as soon as possible.”