Pike workers face uncertain future

PIKE River Coal employees could learn more about their future employment situation at a staff meeting today, while a union leader wants workers to maintain their independence during investigations into the recent mining disaster.

Blair Price

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little told ILN that the Pike miners would be on the payroll until mid-January.

But he believed the staff meeting today, the second since the first explosion, could indicate what lies ahead.

In any event, the union will soon meet with the company to discuss the workers’ future.

“We expect the union will meet with the company in the next couple of weeks and find out what’s going to happen, what the long-term prognosis is,” Little said.

Before the disastrous events over the past few weeks, the mine had a workforce of about 180, including nine trainee miners.

Little is also concerned that Pike has provided lawyers to help advise its workers during interviews which are part of a Department of Labour investigation into the mining tragedy.

The union is also providing legal counsel to its members.

Little offered his own advice to the Pike workers.

“The main thing is to remember that the company interests are different to their own and that they need to maintain their independence during the investigation and to make sure they take advice that is independent of the company.”

ILN has sought comment from Pike on this issue.

Solid Energy recently agreed to take the remaining coal from Pike’s stockpiles.

Pike’s first focus is on recovering the bodies of the 29 men and returning them to their families, but the company has also made it clear it would like to reopen the mine down the track.