A SHIFT TO CHANGE: Wesfarmers Curragh last week announced a change back to shorter shifts to remain sustainable in the coal industry.
A SHIFT TO CHANGE: Wesfarmers Curragh last week announced a change back to shorter shifts to remain sustainable in the coal industry. Meghan Kidd

Curragh makes cuts at coal face

LIKE the sudden change in temperature, coal prices continue to drop and the outlook could continue to be a bleak one, with more job cuts on the horizon.

Last week, in a bid to avoid further redundancies, Wesfarmers Curragh Mine announced roster changes in response to the "deterioration in the coal price and general market conditions".

Miners will feel the pinch in their pay packets with annual losses upwards of $30,000 and a return to shorter 8.5-hour shifts.

"The changes will involve some employees moving to five-day eight-hour rosters," the spokesman said.

"Consultation on a new seven-day 8.5-hour roster has also commenced."

Wesfarmers' decision aligns with a number of local mine sites making changes to reflect the current industry climate and "the need to further reduce mine site costs in order to remain sustainable in the longer term".

"Since the downturn in the coal market some 18 months ago, Curragh has made it a priority to protect the jobs of its full-time permanent-wages workforce and this most recent change is consistent with that approach," the spokesman said.

In a "turn-of-the-century move", Blackwater Community Progress Group chair Steve Grant said he could not remember the last time eight-hour rosters were in place.

He said while cuts to wages were not favourable, keeping jobs was, and the potential was for the shorter shifts to bring more families back to town.

"It's hard to comment on because who knows what the outcome will be?" he said. "But if it results in people coming back to town, that would be great.

"They might think 'we might as well have our families out here', because I know people get sick of the travel, and being away from their families."

Mr Grant said he hoped that the company did not resort to putting labour hire on to cover the shifts.

"I would imagine they have got to put on more people to cover the extra rosters they need with eight-hour shifts, and if it's labour hire, that could be the downside of it," he said.

"But every mining company is doing that now because labour hire is cheaper."


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