Mining union organisers are blaming management incompetence for Solid Energy's massive job cutting, and are heading to parliament on Tuesday to urge the government to step in.
The state-owned company told workers on Monday it has decided to mothball its Spring Creek underground mine on the West Coast, resulting in the loss of 222 jobs.
Solid Energy also confirmed previously signalled losses of 60 jobs at Huntly East mine, 163 at its Christchurch head office, and about 130 people employed by contractors.
The coal miner posted a $40 million loss last year and is facing a fall in revenues of $200m this year. It says this, coupled with a fall in coal prices, forced it to cut about 25 per cent of its workforce.
West Coast Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) area organiser Garth Elliott says Solid Energy's planning to deal with possible falls in coal prices was "bloody shocking".
"We have other mines around the place like Roa (near Blackball) which are saying `what coal prices'," he told NZ Newswire.
"Coal prices had been up there for some time, and they have come down, and you plan for those times, and I don't think Solid Energy have planned for it.
"Poor planning would be an under-estimation to be quite honest."
Mr Elliott said the Spring Creek staff took the redundancy announcement better than he expected.
EPMU assistant national secretary Ged O'Connell says a $35m government investment could save Spring Creek, and the union also wanted more investment in Huntly East.
"But this is about more than jobs, it's about providing a future for the people of Greymouth and Huntly. For the government to stand by and abandon these mining communities would be simply unconscionable.
"The fight for these jobs and these communities isn't over yet."
The miners will present a plan to keep the mine open devised by management and workers to ministers.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said Christchurch needed engineers, builders, plumbers, painters, construction workers and administration staff for its rebuild."Opportunities here in Christchurch can keep families together and enable workers to continue contributing to their communities therefore my message is that you do not have to leave New Zealand for work," Mr Parker said.
Copyright © 2013 Yahoo! New Zealand
All rights reserved.
Select your region to see news and weather for your area.