Talk of a Government bailout of Solid Energy is welcome, but must not come at the cost of devastating mining communities, says the union for miners, the EPMU.
EPMU national secretary Ged O’Connell says communities on the West Coast and the Waikato are looking to the Government to provide assurances on their future.
"Solid Energy’s financial problems are serious and it’s right for the Government to be talking about a bailout. This is a strategic asset and it is too important to our economy and to the wellbeing of mining communities to be allowed to fail.
"We believe Solid Energy can be a viable business. Coal prices go up and down, and a responsible management team will prepare for a rainy day. Solid Energy’s current woes are a result of some very poor decisions by management and a culture of excess at the top.
"We also can’t ignore the role of the high New Zealand dollar in making it even harder for Solid Energy to compete internationally.
"The Government was more than happy to take heavy dividends from Solid Energy when the times were good. It needs to recognise that Solid Energy’s mines are more than a cash cow, they’re the economic lifeline for thousands of working families.
"The West Coast and Huntly have taken a hammering over the last couple of years and there’s only so much these communities can be expected to take. If the Government can bail out finance companies to protect investors then it can step in now to protect working Kiwis and their families."