February 4, 2015
A very special get-together was held in Yarraman at the weekend … a send-off for truck drivers who lost their jobs in December in controversial circumstances after a change of contractors at Tarong Power Station.
Some of the drivers had been hauling fly ash – a by-product from burning coal which is used in the manufacture of cement – down the Blackbutt Range to Brisbane for more than 20 years.
The reunion, which also attracted current Pozzolanic / Cement Australia employees and retired former colleagues, was held at Yarraman Bowls Club because the majority of the ex-workers live in the town.
Wayne Jewell, who drove for the company from February 1990 to late last year, said eight drivers and 12 “ash pumpers” were made redundant on December 5.
All lived in Yarraman except two – one in Nanango and one in Kingaroy – so the loss of jobs has hit Yarraman hard.
A collection of memorabilia, including newspaper clippings and photographs, was laid out on tables for the drivers to peruse.
There was some sadness but also many laughs as the drivers swapped stories about their long association with the company.
But they admit they were stunned by what happened last year.
“It was a shock. I didn’t expect it until the last month or so,” Wayne said.
A 10-year contract was let by Stanwell to Sydney-based company Coal Reuse midway through 2014.
The ex-Cement Australia employees say the changeover has not been smooth.
Many expected to be rehired by the new contractors, but that hasn’t happened and the Coal Reuse trucks haven’t yet hit the road.
“Coal Reuse thought they were going to straight in and get to work, but it was all our (handling) equipment,” Wayne said.
Some Cement Australia employees remained on site to dismantle the equipment but it still has not been completely removed.
southburnett.com.au understands the deadline for full removal is next month.
In the meantime, Coal Reuse cannot install their equipment and cannot access the fly ash, which is being pumped into a mine void instead.
Wayne said Pozzolanic / Cement Australia had taken an estimated eight million tonnes of fly ash from Tarong over the past 30 years.
“Now there is nothing going out,” he said.
NB. Fly ash is still being removed by truck from the Tarong North power station.
[UPDATED with correction]