Miners talk heart and coal

11-07-2018 by admin

Members of Wollongong Coal’s workforce have described their dismay at ongoing jobs uncertainty and their anger atthe “noisy few” they say contribute to it.

The workers were given a rare public platform in Bellambi onMonday at a pro-mining forum hosted by the company.

The event was an organised push-back against opponents to the mine’s plans –twice stymied by the Planning Assessment Commission –to expandits Russell Vale colliery.

Mechanical engineer Jeff Brown, a 46-year veteran of the coal mining industry,described the disbelief ofcolleagues who had been cut loose from the company amid the uncertainty.

“I saw …genuinefear as theywalked back to the shower for thelast time, worried about their families and where the next job’scomingfrom,” he said.

“Each time it’s happened is as gut wrenching as the first.[At] community meetingswere told … they did not matter, they could find a job elsewhere.

“Some of those men are still searching for work. Some have had to leave the district and their families. Some have part time work.

“Maybe those people that made those comments should face them and try telling them and their families that they don’t matter.”

The Planning Assessment Commission has twice knocked back Wollongong Coal’splan to expand mining under the water catchment,despite itbeing recommended for approval by the Department of Planning and Environment.

TheRussell Vale mine was closed last year and80 people were laid off; the company’s Wongawilli mine remainsin care and maintenance mode.

At Monday’s forum, workers presented a petition to Keira MP Ryan Park and heard from Illawarra Business Chamber CEO Debra Murphy, who spoke about the benefits the industry brought to business.

Dominic Tier, a 28-year-old automation engineer said “a noisy few” in the Illawarra opposed the expansion.

“Some may prefer that we in our chosen profession should be sent far away ….we should provide the steel for their needs far away from our families and from our community,” he said.

“I would ask them how they would feel if they were told their work was needed yet they had to conduct it far away from their home for no fault of their own and to appeal to the noisy few.”

WORKMATES: Jeff Brown (front) addressed Monday’s forum.

FORUM: Keira MP Ryan Park addresses Wollongong Coal miners and supporters on Monday.

MINORITY: Dominic Tier told co-workers that only “a noisy few” resisted the company’s plan for expansion.

Staff trade supervisor Stephen Hamilton with grandson, Flynn Arkwright.

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