One month out from Christmas, Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry MP has urge Anglo-American Coal not to destroy the town of Middlemount by sacking 83 workers.
Ms Landry said she understands that 83 people will be told to take a forced redundancy from its permanent workforce – which would further devastate the dwindling town and surrounding worker catchment areas.
The feisty MP has called the company bosses to express her concern and relay the concern of local residents.
“Middlemount has taken a battering with the closure of its only bank, the closure of small businesses and the loss of many school teachers as the town goes backwards from the mining slump.
“Permanent families have invested in the town. If you take them away the impact is four-fold. For every worker – with a spouse and two children – it could mean as many as 300 to 400 people could be forced to leave Middlemount.
“And because the company owns many of the houses - families fear they may face uncertainty just one month out from Christmas about where they are going to live,” the hard-working MP said.
“I understand that Anglo is leaving Australia and don’t want to keep running a coal business. That’s fine. But in the case of Middlemount, you have to question why the 83 redundancies must be permanent workers and not their casual workforce.”
Ms Landry said small CQ coal towns faced a ‘double whammy’ – with the potential loss of permanent workers on one hand and an increase in casual contracts on the other.
“Casualisation of the coal workforce is a further issue leading to the demise of country towns in Central Queensland.”
Ms Landry said as a result there is much uncertainty in many small towns in Capricornia’s western coal belt.
“It’s a two edge sword. People without permanency have no stability in their lives. As a result banks won’t lend people money, many businesses are closing, and schools and health services are dwindling because the population is shrinking. I can’t sit by as our small country towns die.
“Coal prices are starting to rise again. But there appears a push to put vast amounts of workers on casual contracts where they have no holiday, sick leave or family leave. This means they have no pay packet to take home if they fall ill.”
Ms Landry met with residents from Middlemount and as a National Party MP – her role is to stand up for small country towns.
“I have raised concerns with the Minister for Resources and urged him to call the major mining companies to outline the impact their actions of increased casualisation are having on residents, small business, families and schools – as well as the mental health and wellbeing of casual workers themselves.”
Last week in federal Parliament, Ms Landry told the National Party room meeting that casualistion of the local coal workforce was the biggest issue affecting Central Queensland’s workforce in the resources sector.
She will continue to chew the ear of senior colleagues about the impact of ‘casualisation’ as she prepared to return to Canberra next week.