'Numb and lost': Workers hit rock bottom after redundancies
IN SINGLE file, Tommy Law and 18 of his crew members walked into the office at the New Acland Mine last week and were given the news they were being made redundant, 98 days before Christmas.
"Everyone's heart sort of dropped," Mr Law told the Dalby Herald of his final moments at the mine.
"We thought, this is it."
The State Government was given until September 1 to approve Stage 3 of the New Acland Coal Mine production but New Hope was greeted with silence when the deadline hit.
Redundancies began rolling out the following week.
New Hope Group has been waiting for a mining licence, renewed water licence and approval for the use of the Jondaryan rail line for more than a decade, among legal battles with the Oakey Action Coal Alliance in the Land Court.
Mr Law spent eight years working at the New Acland Coal Mine as an operator and before that held a position at the Wilkie Creek Coal Mine.
Mr Law said to have lost a position he believed to be secure was devastating.
"We were all waiting beside the phone and we'd get messages from friends updating us on who's gone," he said.
"Every day you just see the list of names of your mates who are gone.
"We thought it wouldn't have come to this stage. We just didn't know who was going to go - we didn't think it'd get to this stage."
New Hope provided psychologists and life coaches for the workers forced to go home to their families and explain what had happened.
As a father of two young children who have just started school in Dalby and the husband of a woman who works locally, Mr Law has been forced to weigh up options of work prospects while raising a young family.
"You just feel numb and lost," he said.
"When you work in the same industry for eight years, you're sort of lost.
"Which way do you go? Do you relocate your family and keep mining or do you try and chip away and find work in your community were your lives and your families are?"
Despite the personal, emotional toll on himself and his family, Mr Law's main concerns lie with his mates.
"When you walk out and see what's left of your crew, it's very daunting," he said.
"I just worried more about my mates, for the ones who haven't hit rock bottom and not knowing how to deal with it if they hit rock bottom.
"It's been very tough on my wife and my kids, not having me there mentally all the time, being off in my own world trying to think things through.
"We all just weren't sure how they were going to play it - it's hard to know.
"They have a lot of good people and a lot of good-skilled people, so we couldn't get our head around how they did it, we just had to accept it."
Need to talk? Help is available.