Cobar draws line in sand
Cobar residents are expected to turn out in force on Tuesday to back 90 of their number threatened by the looming sell-off of the Elura Copper Mine. Long-standing mayor, Lilliane Brady, has endorsed the protest, along with striking workers' demands to be told the truth about their futures. "This is the last stand of a country town determined to keep jobs in its community, "Australian Workers Union Secretary, Russ Collison, said. "These people want to know the truth. It is the least Pasminco owes them. "There is a lot of support for them in Cobar. We expect most of the town to attend the rally on Tuesday." Elura is the last fully-unionised metalliferous mine in NSW with workers belonging to the AWU, AMWU and ETU. It's future has been uncertain since Pasminco went into voluntary liquidation in September, 2001. Concern deepened with this week's announcement that the company would going back on its word to operate its Cockle Creek mine, near Lake Macquarrie, until at least 2006. Instead, Pasminco said, Cockle Creek would close in September. Collison said the spectre of Consolidated Broken Hill, understood to be negotiating over Elura, further complicated the picture for the unionised workforce. "CBH has a well-deserved reputation for being anti-worker and anti-union," Collison said. Elura workers this week voted to extend their strike "indefinitely" after, they say, Pasminco's administrator "brushed off" requests for hard information. In 10 written questions, they had sought clarifications on the mine's future; provisions for owed entitlements and how they would be calculated; along with assurances that existing agreements would be honoured. "The administrators didn't see fit to answer any of these questions", Collison said. "Basically, they brushed us off and told us to get back to work on their terms. Our blokes want them to understand that attitude is unacceptable."
* * *Acknowledgements Workers' Online http://www.workers.labor.net.au