by Tegan Annett
A MINING company that has left more than 100 workers in limbo for the next two months has been warned to start putting its employees well being first.
READ MORE | 100 workers stood down after mine floods
Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten has challenged Caledon Coal on its decision to stand down around 110 workers unpaid at its Cook Colliery mine, west of Gladstone, for at least two months.
The decision followed significant water damage on March 7 that impacted one of the vital parts of the mine, the longwall.
Mr Shorten said workers would struggle to "put food on the table" in a letter sent to Cook Colliery general manager Russell Howarth.
"Your workforce must still pay the rent or their mortgage," Mr Shorten said.
"The bills will still come in. And they must still put food on the table for their families.
"I urge you to consider the well being of your workforce, and the broader community, and take immediate steps to mitigate the effect of this stand down."
While workers were told they could access annual leave entitlements, Mr Shorten worried some did not have any left.
The Labor politician met with workers at a town hall meeting last week.
"It is unfair that your workers are being left in this situation through no fault of their own," Mr Shorten said.
The move by Caledon, which has a workforce of 400 at the mine, follows a water inflow event on March 7 that caused significant damage to the longwall section of the mine.
The longwall mining area accounts for 85% of the Cook's coal production.
"The loss of revenue from its primary production source will have a major financial impact on the company," a statement from Caledon read.
"Most site contractors will be demobilised and, where appropriate, contract agreements will be terminated to avoid ongoing losses."
Meanwhile the CFMEU is disputing the company's claim they can stand employees down without pay under their enterprise agreement.
However, this dispute will be set back by almost two months as they await a Fair Work Commission decision for another Caledon Coal appeal.
Mining and energy division Queensland district vice-president Glenn Power is calling on Caledon to "cease their path of destruction".
"Local workers and their families deserve good, steady jobs and it's time mining giants are held to account in this distorted industrial relations system," he said.
When asked for clarification on the length of time workers would be stood down, a Caledon representative said, "Caledon is working with employees, contractors and government to minimise the impact of the inflow event".
The company will undertake a de-watering and assessment process over the coming months to "ascertain the full impact of the water inundation on the longwall equipment and strata conditions".