CFMEU on attack as rumours swirl about Rio Tinto job cuts
RUMOURS of further cuts to Rio Tinto's Bowen Basin workforce have been given weight after the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union launched a fresh attack on the mining giant.
The CFMEU said workers were likely to again face redundancies as the multi-national attempted to accommodate a $35 billion drop in its share value.
It has been reported up to 100 Rio Tinto workers across Queensland and New South Wales could lose their jobs.
CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth described the cuts as "brutal short-term thinking, cutting from the bottom to cover for problems at the top".
"Our members at Rio operations rightfully feel disgusted by this latest round of job cuts creating uncertainty for mining families and their communities," Mr Smyth said.
"It was not mine workers who have let corporate costs skyrocket and refused to invest in local training and apprenticeships, creating a massive trade skills shortage across the country."
The company holds part ownership in three Bowen Basin operations - Clermont, Kestrel and Hail Creek mines.
The rumours follow the closure of Rio's Blair Athol mine near Clermont in November, four years before the company's predicted date of 2016.
A Rio Tinto spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the latest round of cuts, and said the industry was facing a "significant challenge to remain globally competitive due to the combination of high costs, lower coal prices and strong Australian dollar".
"Rio Tinto is working to ensure the long-term resilience of its Australian coal operations by taking steps to improve productivity and significantly reduce costs in a range of areas," he said.
But Mr Smyth challenged the statement.
"In recent months the fundamentals of Rio's coal operations have remained the same - the coal price has not suddenly nose-dived, to our knowledge the company has not lost any major supply contracts, and the Aussie dollar has been high for years," he said.