Weak market costs more coal rail jobs

THE rail union has criticisedPacific National for being “insincere’’ following news that 46 Huntercoal train drivers will lose their jobs at the same time the company advertises for casual drivers to work through a labour hire company.

The company, now part of Asciano, announced the latest redundancies on January 12to the 300-strong workforce at its Newcastle depot, citing a downturn in the coal market and loss of contracted haulage into the Port of Newcastle.

It comes less than two years after 45 jobs were lost, including 30 Hunter coal train drivers and 15administration and supportpositions.

The company has agreed to meet with affected workers and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union on January 29 to discuss theredundancies, which the union says would be both voluntary and forced.

The union said the company reported the redundancies were a result of a weak coal market and less work after one of its major customers decreasingin haulage.

But the unionquestioned whether the downturn equated to 46 full-timejobs being lost.

“This opinion has been formed due to the retrenchments occurring at the same time as the company has been and continue to actively advertise for casual train crew to work through a labour hire company,’’ the union said in a statement.

A Pacific National spokesman said the job cuts announcement came only afterthe company could not secure more work to cover the downturn.

“An expected reduction in our Hunter Valley contracted coal haulage portfolio from January 2016 onwards has led Pacific National in consultation with its employees and representatives to explore non-binding expressions of interest in voluntary redundancy,’’ the company said in a statement.

“Much has been done to secure additional contracted volumes in order to bridge the expected reduction, however the full amount has not yet been recovered.

“We are working through the required reductions with our employees and their representatives through a voluntary redundancy process.’’

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