Privatisation Inquiry to hear impact of discrimination against Centennial older workers

Evidence of discrimination against older workers at Centennial Coal will be presented to the Senate Economic References Committee for the Inquiry into the Privatisation of State and Territory Assets and New Infrastructure in Sydney, today.

(Image on the right) Catherine Bolger and Belinda Giblin, Collieries Staff and Officers Association standing behind Same Dastyari and Jacquie Lambie at today’s Senate Inquiry.

IMG_0404The Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association (CSOA) will present evidence that shows the negative impact privatisation has had on local jobs and older workers, particularly in rural and regional communities.

Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association Director Catherine Bolger said the experience of workers at Centennial Coal, brought into “sharp focus the implications and problems that stem from privatisation”.

In 2006 the former State-owned Powercoal mines were bought by Centennial Coal (owned by Banpu, a Thai company). Centennial have denied full redundancy entitlements to employees close to and over 60 years of age, on the basis of their age.

Ms Bolger said, “Centennial is the only company in the coal mining industry that denies full redundancy entitlements to employees based on age.

“There is an obvious conflict between Government policy and what this company is doing. On one hand, the Federal Government is telling people that they need to work to age 65 for the benefit of the country. Yet, on the other hand, Centennial Coal is denying workers their entitlements because they are over 60 and forcing them to access their superannuation early.

“These workers will have smaller superannuation, exhaust savings earlier and will need to rely on Government assistance – all of which is the opposite of what the country needs.

“In rural and regional areas, privatisation has reduced the number of jobs, particularly for older workers. These workers are the human collateral of privatisation and this situation is important evidence for the Senate Inquiry to hear,” said Ms Bolger.

“In the case of Centennial Coal, privatisation has resulted in its profits leaving Australia and its workers being discriminated against. Last year Centennial reported $213 million in profits, at the same time their older workers face a poor old age.

Centennial Coal workers affected by the discrimination are owed between 30 to 56 weeks salary, many having worked for the company for over 30 years.

“The experiences of these workers show the long-term and devastating impact of privatisation can have on individuals, but more broadly, these experiences impact rural and regional communities and their economies.

“We are calling for a review into the effects of privatisation on older workers and rural and regional communities, to ensure no-one else has to go through what these workers and their families have gone through.

“It is absolutely essential that the long-term effects of privatisation are understood and mitigated before any decision to sell assets is made,” said Ms Bolger.

Source: Professionals Australia

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