South Lanarkshire COALcil » Uncategorized » Scottish Coal threatens Council with job cuts – but will they fall for it?

Scottish Coal threatens Council with job cuts – but will they fall for it?

Last week Scottish Coal bosses sprung the news of up to 200 job cuts on their employees, calling a mass meeting of workers at the Broken Cross site in South Lanarkshire. That’s a fifth of their entire workforce in Scotland. Up to 50 employees could lose their jobs in the Douglas Valley with 30 going at Glentaggart as the mine comes to a close. Where the others are to go isn’t clear.

One Scottish Coal employee working in the Douglas Valley is reported to have said that they felt this was a case of the company “pointing a pistol at the head of the council” to ensure planning permission for new developments was granted.

He continued: “When you look at these proposals, already being talked about with the council, plus those which are in the pipeline for future years, you have to wonder why this announcement has been made. We all feel we are simply being made pawns in some game between the council and company“.

Scottish Coal said: “The potential job losses are extremely regrettable but we have to act now to ensure the business is in good condition to continue its vital role of supplying Scottish coal to UK power stations.

“While demand for coal remains strong [we have] experienced some recent difficulties in meeting the timetable for new and replacement sites. Subject to finances, economics and planning approval, Scottish Coal plan to open several, new sites in 2012 and 2013, which will provide more job opportunities in our industry.

Karen Gillon MSP made some non-committal, unintelligible comments. David Mundell MP followed suit. No changes there then.

So what does this announcement show? A few things. Firstly, that Scottish Coal cares as much about its workforce as it does near-by communities. Opencast workers are seen as expendable, with temporary contracts and poor pay and working conditions. Scottish Coal hire and fire with little regard for the impact on their worker’s lives. They’d rather lay off hundreds than see their precious profit margins affected.

Secondly, Scottish Coal are worried about future mining operations. With a seven month delay at Maisnhill and a defeat in Midlothain (presumably what they mean by “experienced some recent difficulties in meeting the timetable for new and replacement sites”) the bosses must be feeling the heat. And with anti opencast activity in the Douglas Valley gaining steam, they’re worried about their new applications.

Finally, perhaps they’re not so sure that the Council will keep doing their bidding for much longer. With anti-Council sentiment at an all time high in South Lanarkshire (approving opencasts and toxic waste incinerators won’t earn you any friends!) maybe, just maybe they’ll listen to the people. Its either that or at best getting voted out of council (or at worst suffering a corruption investigation with much greater consequences…).

Job losses are Scottish Coal’s stick that they’re waving at the donkeys in South Lanarkshire Council (the carrots being jobs with the mining company, “retainers”, Christmas card sponsorship, etc). If there’s anything that gets a Labour-dominated council going, its the vague promise of jobs, even if there’s no real job creation in opencast.

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