Welfare of mine staff union's top priority

STAWELL - Representatives from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union are lobbying to ensure employees at Stawell Gold Mines will be put on a fast track scheme for support payments once their employment ceases with the company.

Duncan MacGregor, who is organiser for the Victorian District Mining and Energy Division, has been meeting with management and staff at Stawell Gold Mines, since the announcement that the mine's owner, Crocodile Gold, would commence winding down the underground operation.

Mr MacGregor said he had worked closely with the mine's general manager Troy Cole since the transition phase commenced in July, to ensure the best outcome for all staff.

"Our main concern is for the welfare of the employees," Mr MacGregor said.

"We have met with representatives from the Northern Grampians Shire Council and have asked them to lobby the Federal Government for support. We are seeking to have the employees considered for immediate qualification for the Stream III Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations/Job Services Australia Assistance Program.

"A Stream III qualification would give them immediate access to a range of assistance such as retraining, recognition of prior learning and greatly assist in the ability of these good people to find alternative and hopefully meaningful employment.

"If we are able to find employment for these people, in the short term, it will not only lessen the stress and tension to themselves and their families in such a difficult time, but will hopefully limit the downstream effect that this closure will have on the greater Stawell community."

Mr MacGregor said mine employees had skills that can be utilised above ground. He hopes mine management, council and business operators will work together to generate job opportunities for those people from the mine who want to remain in the community.

"If these opportunities don't present themselves, then you lose not only the worker, but a wife who could also be employed at the hospital or as a shop assistant, the children from a school and the flow on effect from that would be the loss of a teacher," he said.

"So the impact isn't just on one person, it impacts on the community as a whole.

"We are concerned for the welfare of our members and their families as they move into a new phase in their lives."

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