Support for mine staff widespread

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The community is banding together to support the Macraes Goldfield workers facing job cuts.

OceanaGold announced on Tuesday about 25 per cent of the goldfield’s about 560 workers would be impacted by a re-optimised mine plan, which would see lower material movement from the mine and lower staff requirements.

A Work and Income spokesperson said plans were already in motion to support workers who lost their jobs.

“We’ve been talking with Oceana Gold about providing support and advice to staff affected by the mine’s announcement this week.

“We’ll be working with the employer over the coming weeks to assess the type of support people might need.

“Work and Income provides a thorough job search service. For people who are eligible, there’s also financial assistance available while they look for jobs and we’re here to support them.”

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he had been taking steps to ensure Oamaru’s Work and Income office was communicating with Dunedin’s office, to ensure a relationship was established to help look after the workers facing job cuts.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said workers would be looked after.

“The Chamber of Commerce will do what we can to assist.”

Work and Income and various other community groups would also be likely to step in to help those who lose their jobs, Mr Christie said.

The situation was tough for all involved and could possibly result in the district losing the skilled workers who lose employment at the goldfields, he said.

A second meeting, held at Macraes Flat on Tuesday, announced Gough Group contractors working at the goldfields, of which there are about 39, would no longer be contracted to work for OceanaGold on the site as of January 17.

Gough Group chief executive officer Karl Smith said the company received a notice of termination last Tuesday saying the about 39 contracted positions had been disestablished.

Mr Smith said the company was doing everything it could to support the workers at the mine.

“We’ve actually kept a set of vacancies open throughout the country.”

Those contractors out of work as of January 17 may have to move to fill other positions in the company, but other positions were being offered, Mr Smith said.

“We’ve got a package to offer them to relocate them and their families free of cost.

“I’m hopeful a reasonable number of them will be willing to do that.”

Mr Smith said the contractors were a good group he wished to retain as employees.

Gough Group had been working with OceanaGold to cut costs, and seeing his employees lose their jobs was hard for everyone, Mr Smith said.

“This is quite painful, the ultimate pain . . . all we can do is look after our team.”

By DAVID DE LOREAN