Port Waratah Coal cuts 32 jobs

ANOTHER 32 coal industry jobs are threatened after Port Waratah Coal Services announced more retrenchments at its Carrington and Kooragang Island coal terminals.

PWCS chief executive Hennie du Plooy said the company wanted to retrench 14 operators and trades people, nine staff and nine contractors.

But Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state organiser Cory Wright said unions were unhappy at the way the company had ‘‘announced the job cuts by press release’’ and that the loss of unionised jobs would be opposed.

‘‘We have a meeting with the company at 9.30am on Thursday and we need to see the evidence for them being genuine redundancies,’’ Mr Wright said.

‘‘There will be some older workers happy to take a package but as far as the union is concerned the important thing is to protect permanent jobs in the long run.’’

The latest cuts follow the loss of 34 jobs announced in July.

In total, PWCS will have shed about 10per cent of its workforce in the two tranches of retrenchment, but it still employs about 350 people and about 190 contractors.

Tonne for tonne, PWCS employs far more people than the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group terminal on Kooragang Island, which was built to be as mechanised as possible.

Mr du Plooy said on Tuesday the job cuts were part of the coal industry’s ‘‘focus on improving efficiency and productivity in response to current market conditions’’.

“We recognise the impact of changes like this on people and therefore don’t make these decisions lightly,” Mr du Plooy said.

“Industry demand for Port Waratah’s coal handling services remains high but it is important that we position our business to support the sustainability of the coal chain as a whole.’’

A PWCS spokesperson said the company expected to ship slightly more coal this year than last year.

He said coal companies were lodging their requests or ‘‘nominations’’ for capacity next year, with the results likely to be known in November.

Latest figures from the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Co-ordinator, which oversees the movement of coal from mines to the port, show that the industry is producing about 95per cent of the coal it expected to ship at the start of the year.