"Cutting costs this way is unacceptable,” Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union mining and energy division Queensland district president Stephen Smyth told the Mackay Daily Mercury.
“What they would save is a pittance. Peabody would spend more money on its Christmas drinks,” he said.
The newspaper claimed that 18 apprentices had no warning when senior Peabody staff told them to leave their job sites immediately on Thursday.
“It is believed apprentices at the North Goonyella, Coppabella, Millennium and Moorvale open-cut mines lost their jobs,” the newspaper reported.
A Peabody spokeswoman responded to this report.
“I do not know where they got the 18 number from – we haven’t provided a figure,” she told ICN.
She said the apprentices would be returned to their employer, Mackay-based MRAEL Group.
“The apprentices will be returned to their employer, Peabody only hosted them, to say they have been sacked (as stated in the Mercury) is inaccurate,” the spokeswoman said.
The coal miner also provided a statement on the matter.
“Peabody Energy has conducted a comprehensive review of its apprenticeship program based on the operational needs of the business and current market conditions.
“Peabody has made the decision to reduce the number of apprentices we host at our Australian operations.
“We understand that this decision will have an impact on the effected apprentices, their families and colleagues. We will work with the apprentice’s direct employer [MRAEL] throughout the process and provide assistance as required.”
MRAEL has employed, managed and trained apprentices for more than two decades.