Workers are calling on Centennial Coal to “do the right thing”, in light of confirmation that the company does not plan to pay full entitlements to workers over 60, as it moves to care and maintenance at the Newstan Mine.

Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association director Catherine Bolger said Centennial’s behaviour was “a disgraceful way to treat loyal workers facing redundancy”.

“This is disgusting. Centennial is the only company in the coal industry that does not pay proper entitlements to workers over 60. They need to abandon this miserly, mean-spirited behaviour and live up to their responsibilities.

“Many of these staff have worked for Centennial for over 30 years. This is a moment of truth for Centennial – they must stop discriminating against older workers and pay full entitlements.

Ms Bolger said that Centennial’s refusal to pay redundancy entitlements was particularly nasty given that 25 per cent of coal mine workers in NSW are aged over 50 years and all other companies manage to pay proper entitlements to workers.

“Centennial’s refusal to pay proper entitlements is discrimination against older workers.

The Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association has launched legal proceedings to retrieve payments for older workers in the Federal Court, with the issue due to be heard in October.

“Given the move to care and maintenance at Newstan, Centennial has the opportunity to do the right thing now.

“It is extremely disappointing that Centennial would force older workers to go to court to get paid what they are owed.

“It is difficult to understand why Centennial has taken such a hardline approach. Centennial once prided itself on treating employees like family, now is the time for them to live up to these words and pay older workers full entitlements.

Historically in the coal industry, retirement was compulsory at 60 years of age. As a result, the Black Coal Award 2010 (clause 14.4.c), sets out redundancy conditions for workers to the age of 60 years, but not beyond. With the retirement age now commonly 65 years and beyond, Ms Bolger said that Centennial had “acted without any form of compassion” in citing this obscure clause.

“Many in the industry see this as discriminatory. It is particularly penny-pinching for Centennial to withhold entitlements that these workers have rightly earned.

Ms Bolger said that she hoped Centennial would come to its senses and give older workers some justice and appropriate payment for the years they have served.

“These workers have been loyal; they have helped deliver years of profits for Centennial. It is awful that the company is now quibbling over their retrenchment pay.

“Centennial could make a bad situation much worse. These workers have had the rug pulled out from under them, it is only fair that they are paid for what they have rightfully earned.

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