PNG fitters under scrutiny

LAY-offs at the Boggabri coal mine in New South Wales have stirred up some resentment over temporary work visas, with the mine’s Papua New Guinean diesel fitters dodging the axe.
PNG fitters under scrutiny PNG fitters under scrutiny PNG fitters under scrutiny PNG fitters under scrutiny PNG fitters under scrutiny

With contractor Downer EDI shedding 106 jobs, almost a third of the mine's workforce, the surviving six truck-maintaining diesel fitters from PNG on 457 visas became subject to union-triggered media attention.

ABC's 7.30 did not have many problems tracking down two of the Papua New Guineans at their residence.

"We're just like you, working for your bread and butter," a PNG diesel fitter said in a calm exchange.

He told the reporter to speak to mine operator Downer EDI.

While Downer reportedly told the TV program that the PNG workers had specialist skills, 7.30 claimed to have received a company skills chart which disproved this.

"Most of the sacked tradesmen have multiple qualifications," the program claimed.

"The PNG workers are listed as having next to none."

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national secretary Dave Noonan has since said there is an urgent need for legislation to address "rorts" within the 457 visa scheme.

The redundancies reflect the struggle of thermal coal prices, with Japan increasingly using LNG for power generation.

Macquarie Private Wealth also expects Australia's first hard coking coal contract for the forthcoming September quarter to be less than $160 a tonne.

It would be the lowest price since BHP Billiton ushered in quarterly metallurgical coal contracts to Japanese steel mills in 2010.

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