Workers in the West Australian coal mining town of Collie face an uncertain future after the Indian owners of the Griffin mine went into receivership.
It comes on the same day it was separately announced a power station would close.
PricewaterhouseCoopers have been appointed receivers and managers at Indian-owned Lanco Resources.
The mine has posted large financial losses since Indian conglomerate Lanco Infratech paid what is now regarded as a grossly inflated figure of $740 million for it in 2010.
Lanco Infratech has high debt problems and is fighting KordaMentha in court claiming it was misled into paying that price.
Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union WA secretary Steve McCartney said workers were worried about losing their jobs and entitlements, on top of losses they had already suffered due to an ongoing pay dispute.
Mr McCartney said he wanted government intervention to protect the workers, saying the company was exploiting loopholes in the Fair Work Commission system to avoid paying workers their rightful entitlements,.
The Griffin workers take home pay and redundancy entitlements were controversially cut by 43 per cent after the Fair Work Commission ruled in March that employees should go back on an award rate.
However there are now fears the mine will be shut, leaving only the Chinese Yancoal-owned Premier Coal Mine.
“We are all paying for their (Lanco Resources) incompetence. They definitely paid too much for the mine,” Mr McCartney told 6PR radio.
“The workers have got punished but their mishandling of the mine since they took over has been a disaster as well.
“This company going into receivership is the worst possible outcome for these workers, and it is unacceptable that the accrued entitlements they rightfully earned at $62 an hour will now be paid out at only $30 an hour.”
It was also revealed on Friday that Collie’s ageing Muja AB coal-fired power station would be closed, despite the former Liberal National government spending $310 million to revive it in recent years.
Premier Mark McGowan said the decision to close the power station for commercial reasons was made by the previous government, which also chose to refurbish it.
“So now the megawatts have been withdrawn from the system at huge cost to taxpayers,” he told reporters.