James Grubel: As the boom fades, miners put the brakes on the gravy train
SUDDENLY strapped for cash and forced to penny pinch as Australia's decade-long mining boom fades, resources companies are sending a new message to staff: The gravy train is over.
Gone are free fruit baskets, weekly barbecues and the Australian "smoko", or unscheduled work breaks, at some sites.
Frantic demand from China for commodities over the last decade shielded Australia from the global downturn and prompted €300bn in investment. Desperate to retain staff, six-figure salaries and elaborate extras for everyone from truck drivers to kitchen help became commonplace.