Spring Creek miners and their families will lead a community ‘March for Work’ in Greymouth on Tuesday calling on Solid Energy and the Government to secure the future of the town and ensure the mine stays open.
Solid Energy suspended operations at Spring Creek on Wednesday and is considering closing the mine – a decision that would put more than 200 people out of work and strike a devastating blow to a community still reeling from the Pike River tragedy.
The ‘March for Work’ is supported by the EPMU, Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn, West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor and Pike River families spokesperson Bernie Monk.
The EPMU’s West Coast organiser, Garth Elliott, says the march will show the strong community support for keeping Spring Creek open.
“Our community has been absolutely battered in recent years, first with the Pike River tragedy and now this. We’re marching together to say to Solid Energy and to the Government that they can’t just abandon Greymouth.
“Coal prices go up and down, but mining communities have to go on. We’re asking Solid Energy and the Government to take a real look at the damage that the closure of Spring Creek would do to the town and its people.
“This kind of short-term thinking from Solid Energy isn’t in the interests of the company and it definitely isn’t in the interests of the communities whose labour and whose commitment has built our mining industry.
“The community’s response so far has been really overwhelming, and we’re hoping for a good family event that shows what this community’s made of.”
Spring Creek miner Daryl Sweetman says he doesn’t know what he’d do if he lost his job. He has a mortgage and a young baby, and his wife is pregnant with one more.
“I was born on the Coast and it’s where I want to raise my family, but if the mine closes I won’t have much choice but to move the family to Australia to find work.
“There are hundreds of families here in the same situation, not just miners but people working in all kinds of businesses that rely on the mine: the laundry, the engineering firms, the local shops, pubs and restaurants. Losing the mine will just rip the guts out of the local economy.
“This march is about more than jobs, it’s about saving our community.”
The ‘March for Work’ will assemble at the Greymouth skate park near the Regent Theatre in Mackay Street at 12 noon on Tuesday, September 4, and make its way to the clocktower for speeches at 1pm.