Sarah Harvey

Job cut rumours rife at Clermont

RUMOURS of job cuts are rife at Rio Tinto's Clermont mine in Central Queensland as the resources giant keeps quiet about looming staff cuts.

APN can confirm collective agreement negotiations between workers and management have been ongoing since March.

In the first week of June, Rio Tinto's proposed conditions were voted down by 70% of its workforce.

Both the company and the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union were to attend Fair Work Australia conciliation on June 29 but it was cancelled.

On Friday last week - a day after the company warned of impending redundancies - Rio told the union it would be at least another four weeks before negotiations could restart.

The company confirmed it was currently negotiating a new enterprise bargaining agreement with workers, but would not elaborate.

It is understood Rio will target support workers who made up about 400 of the 900 employed, not "coalface workers" involved with production.

Since then, one source from within the mine said management brought together workers from each shift on Tuesday last week to tell them of the troubles facing Clermont.

Staff apparently were told all redundancies would have to be finalised by the fourth quarter, or October, of this year.

Reports also surfaced that despite the shield covering "coalface workers", at the end of last week up to 12 maintenance contractors had end-dates added to their contracts.

It was unclear if these workers had simply reached the end of their contracts or were now having their terms wrapped up to keep wages low.

A CFMEU spokesman said the union had now written to Rio in an attempt to learn how many job cuts were planned for the Clermont mine.

"At this stage the union understands that any potential cutbacks will be made at the support staff level and not at the coalface," he said.

"The union looks forward to receiving further detail from the company so it can engage in direct discussions with its Clermont members as to any potential workplace changes."

Rio Tinto have repeatedly declined to comment on the rumours, or say how many staff were facing redundancies.

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