What is the future of Hunter mining and its 13,000 direct employee?
The geography of the Branxton meeting was intriguing. Miners from the old coalfields towns were opposed to the new rosters. The rosters threatened the rhythm of their lives. The idea of a weekend would be lost, sporting clubs ruined, family life disrupted, the working conditions won over decades of struggle turned asunder. But miners from the upper Hunter were supportive of the move. Wages would be higher while new flexible working hours suited the many farmers among them who needed off-farm income to survive, and the wannabe hobby farmers happy to pour good wages into big sheds, quad bikes and expensive SUVs. The valley was divided, longstanding mining communities versus rural newcomers.
The next few years are going to be tough ones as workers seek to fend off increasingly powerful, increasingly monopolised coal employers.