The company behind the multi-billion pound Woodsmith fertilizer mine has confirmed it is making job cuts at its Whitby and Wilton sites.
Anglo American has confirmed 70 redundancies as it moves between construction phases. Workers claim the firm is getting ready to hand over work to “foreign companies with foreign labor” to sink the mine shafts
The company has rubbished the claims, saying not all the positions would be replaced by temporary contractors from elsewhere.
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A worker on the former Sirius Minerals project said the reason the company had given for the redundancies was the “future-proofing” of the business.
He said: “These jobs are mostly held by local people. The construction phase is still happening on the production shaft, the people that are being made redundant are mainly from the Service Shaft and the MTS shaft, [on which] nothing has changed and the sink phase is still happening. “
Another employee said: “I have been a loyal Crop Nutrients employee for three years, sticking by them through the bankruptcy and change of two companies.
“I was told by Anglo American that hard work would result in job security and inclusion in their bonus share scheme. Today I’ve found out the future is mass redundancies and nothing that we were promised would actually happen.
“It has now transpired that all our hard work has been in preparation for them to hand operations over to foreign companies, with foreign labor to sink the shafts. This job was supposed to be of benefit to the local community with the majority of the workforce being local people, which was part of the planning consent, but the lines seem to become blurred.
“We stuck by Anglo-American throughout the pandemic in the belief that a long-term future existed at Woodsmith Mine. Now we do not factor in with their new plan.”
The company said it is in the process of speaking to those workers directly affected by the redundancies, which are normal practice for a “large construction project of this nature”.
Some roles would be filled by Canadian multi-national Redpath Mining, a contractor that has worked on the Woodsmith Project “for some time” providing specialist shaft sinking expertise. Redpath’s workers “come from all over the world”, the company adds, and will work on the project in addition to the local people the company “has always, and would continue, to employ”.
A spokesperson for Anglo American said: “We are currently making a number of changes to the way we are building the Woodsmith mine to align the project with Anglo American’s standards and long term aspirations for Woodsmith. Our new model will deliver the construction of the mineshafts in a slightly different way, meaning some of the roles we had previously are no longer required.
“While this is relatively normal in a large construction project of this nature, we understand it is difficult for those impacted and we believe we have treated our people very fairly in the process.”
“Whilst this is a normal part of projects like this as we move from one phase to another,” the spokesperson added, “this has obviously been a difficult decision.”
They said: “By making these changes now, we are setting the project up for long term success and, as the construction activity ramps up over time, we expect to see the total number of jobs increase substantially, together with the wider economic benefits of our major investment in the region. “
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