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Queensland mines hit by more job cuts -

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PETER CAVE: Dire predictions made in January have been realised with the axe again falling on
workers in the mining sector.

Engineering contractor Macmahon Holdings Limited has slashed 360 jobs at two Central Queensland
mines due to the economic crisis.

The Perth-based company has also announced a wage freeze for the lucky ones who still have a job.

More than 5,000 positions have now been lost in Queensland mines and the unions fear that more will
go before the end of the financial year.

From Brisbane, Nicole Butler reports.

NICOLE BUTLER: Sadly it's becoming a familiar story in these tough economic times - hundreds of
people turn up to work only to be told they've lost their jobs.

That's what's happened to 360 staff at the Saraji and Goonyella mines in Central Queensland.

The axe fell after engineering contractor Macmahon Holdings Limited lost a contract for work at a
BMA mine.

BMA announced in January it was slashing production by up to 15 per cent because of the economic
downturn.

Nonetheless, CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) boss Steve Pierce says the
latest job cuts were unexpected.

STEVE PEIRCE: We were hoping, I suppose, that with the amount of cut backs that BMA have put
through their system already, that that would be the end of it. But obviously it hasn't, there was
contract losses at Goonyella last month and now they have advised that these contract losses at
Saraji so it's really a matter now of waiting to see how many more, if any, are going to come out
of the BMA group and any other coal company.

NICOLE BUTLER: The number of jobs lost in Queensland's mining industry since last October has now
climbed to around 5,000.

Mr Pierce says he's afraid more will go before the end of the financial year.

STEVE PEIRCE: We haven't been approached directly by any of the coal companies to advise us that
but given the profits are a moving feast and a lot of these cutbacks, in our view, seem to be more
profit-driven than as a result of a loss of contracts, there's always a concern that there is going
to be further impacts on the workforce.

NICOLE BUTLER: Besides job cuts, MacMahon has also announced an across-the-board wage freeze.

No one from the Perth-based company has been available to speak with The World Today but a written
statement has been issued. It says:

(Extract from Macmahon Holdings Limited statement)

The changing economic environment and dramatic reduction in demand for resources have impacted
Macmahon's mining businesses. In particular with monthly revenues now averaging 30 to 40 per cent
lower than six months ago.

Adding to these issues, severe rain and cyclones in the March quarter have impacted our operations
in Queensland's Bowen Basin and the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

(End of extract)

NICOLE BUTLER: Macmahon's downgraded its annual net profit forecast from up to $40-million to as
low as $15-million. Its share price has plummeted.

Meanwhile the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has described the company's job cuts as a tragedy.

ANNA BLIGH: What's happening in central Queensland is a tragedy for many of these mining towns and
communities and the families that call these towns home. It is more bad news today. We will be
working with these displaced workers and hope to find them relocated jobs.

We have already activated our rapid response team who will be meeting with those people who have
lost their jobs.

It is not easy and I think people understand that there aren't going to be jobs there for everybody
who loses a job but if we can make sure that just one person gets a job rather than sustain
unemployment, then that's worth doing.

NICOLE BUTLER: But the mining union is cynical.

It says it's not aware of the Government's job squad having any success in finding sacked workers
new positions.

The CFMEU's Steve Pierce again.

STEVE PEIRCE: Given the amount of redundancies we've had in the industry since Christmas, these
people's short to medium term employment prospects look very bleak indeed.

PETER CAVE: Unionist Steve Pierce ending Nicole Butler's report.