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Miners to say goodbye

Miners to say goodbye

More than 100 West Coast coalminers will travel to Christchurch tomorrow to say goodbye to a fallen comrade.

EPMU official and former miner Tim Hix died in a car crash on Tuesday morning on his way to represent miners from Strongman and Spring Creek in pay talks. The talks have been suspended since his death, and Solid Energy is providing buses to take the miners to his funeral in Christchurch.

Thirty-seven-year-old Mr Hix grew up on the West Coast, steeped in mining and union history. He and his twin brother started working in the Denniston underground mine at the age of 16.

“We went in boys and came out men,” said schoolfriend Hugh Tyler, a union delegate at Stockton opencast mine.

Mr Hix rose rapidly through union ranks, and in 1999 left mining to work for the miners’ union, the EPMU.

He is credited by colleagues as being instrumental in holding the miners’ union together at a time when mining was in decline and unionism was under heavy political attack.

Last week he led 88 miners from Strongman and Spring Creek underground mines in a strike to regain the conditions lost in the 1990s.

“He’d put in the years of hard work, and it was paying off,” said Strongman delegates’ convenor Harold Gibbens.

“Everyone is saying that we’ve got to finish the job, for Tim.”

The EPMU’s offices around the country will be closed tomorrow afternoon as a sign of respect for Mr Hix. His funeral will be held at 2.30pm tomorrow at the Harewood Crematorium in Christchurch.

A trust fund has been set up for his family.

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