Economy in focus: Workers' Union

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union has reflected the South West MLC Steve Thomas's calls for a focus on the Collie economy, however said there's no need for crisis talk just yet.

Last week, Mr Thomas said the Collie economy was at crisis point after Bluewaters Power Station started an application in the Supreme Court to confirm and secure its step-in rights over the highly troubled and controversial Griffin Coal Mine.

AMWU state secretary Steve McCartney, however, said while he agreed the Collie and wider South West region economy needed a greater focus by government he wouldn't use the word "crisis" just yet.

"I think saying Collie is in 'crisis' creates a lot of panic and I don't think we're in that position right now," he said.

"With the Federal Government poking its nose in it pushed the State Government into action because it doesn't want to be seen as a second player and now movement is finally happening.

"What we have to do is build up the attention and make sure it's at the forefront of everyone's mind that this transition is happening and it's impacting people in Collie already and we need to change it."

Mr McCartney said the union viewed the precarious mining situation in Collie as a whole region issue and was putting a focus on the transition of job skills and industry to ensure workers were looked after when coal mining finished.

"There is always going to be people who work away from Collie and coming into Collie," he said.

"However, I do think the people who don't live in Collie have a lot more options in front of them coming up and I think there's got to be a focus on what we've got to do in Collie to build these job opportunities there too.

"Collie is the epicentre of production in the region so people will always be travelling in and around the town, but we are focused on stabilising the local Collie economy as well.

"We're in the process of getting the local personal economy stabilised here, in other words so workers' wages don't alter and they're not in a downward race while trying to live in the South West at the same time."

Following last week's court application, Bluewaters chief executive officer Andrew Sutherland clarified the company was not exercising its step-in rights, merely seeking to confirm its validity, and was receiving a reliable supply of coal.