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Perilya to explain

Thursday, 18th September, 2008

Perilya to explain Perilya to explain

Perilya says it will write to all the union members it sacked from the mines to explain to them why it chose them and not others.

It will also, it said, explain why it employed staff members to positions from which workers had been sacked.

The company gave this commitment to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission at a local hearing yesterday, according to the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

The CFMEU had called the hearing to have the company explain what the union described as the unfair dismissal of about 170 union members employed on the mine.

They were among the 440 employees who lost their jobs in the company's recent "restructure".

The President of the CFMEU's South West District, Wayne McAndrew, attended the hearing along with the local CFMEU chief, Greg Braes, and representatives of Perilya. 

"Our application was about the lack of proper consultation with regard to what was happening, and the method of selection - who goes and who stays," said Mr McAndrew after the meeting which lasted most of the day.

He said Perilya told the Senior Deputy President of the Commission that it would explain to those who lost their jobs how it came to choose them.

"Different classes of workers have taken the jobs of those retrenched. They said they will explain the reasons for that."

Mr McAndrew said Perilya told the hearing that it had to cut its workforce because the price of lead and zinc was too low and the company was losing money.

He said he accepted that, but what the company had not explained was why had it declared positions redundant and then given those jobs to other employees.

"Supervisory staff are back on tools as electricians, and some have taken on the role of jumbo operators. They are two examples that stick out."

Mr McAndrew said the union did not regard the outcome of yesterday's hearing as "totally satisfactory" and he said that it would consider its options after its members received their explanation from the company, due by the end of the week.

"If they are still aggrieved, then the union will have to look at that."

He said he did not want to say what further action the union might take. 

Mr McAndrew said the CFMEU would continue to press the State and Federal governments for an assistance package for the sacked workers similar to the one given to sacked workers in the car industry.

Car workers have been given help to relocate to find jobs and also retrained. Mr McAndrew said the mine workers of Broken Hill, and the city itself, deserved the same.

With half of Perilya's 34 apprentices likely to lose their jobs as well, he said the government should also be helping them to either find work or give the company some assistance to keep them on. 

But, he said, the responsibility for apprentices fell to the company.The Barrier Daily Truth was barred from reporting from yesterday's hearing held at the court house.

The CFMEU invited the BDT to cover the hearing, as is normal, but as it was about to begin Industrial Commissioner Hamburger's assistant told this reporter that he could not do so without the consent of both parties.

Perilya refused to give its consent although the hearing was open to mine employees, or former employees, a few of whom attended.

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