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Miners owed money by Chinese company to protest in Canberra

Former Cook Colliery workers Phil Wells, Alex Green, Darren Morrow, Chris Smithers, Eldon Alley, Wayne Bradshaw and Keith Armstrong with ALP Federal Workplace Minister Lisa Chesters.
Former Cook Colliery workers Phil Wells, Alex Green, Darren Morrow, Chris Smithers, Eldon Alley, Wayne Bradshaw and Keith Armstrong with ALP Federal Workplace Minister Lisa Chesters. Kerri-Anne Mesner

Workers from the Cook Colliery in Queensland will be joined by CFMEU officials in a protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Canberra today.

The CFMEU issued a statement this morning about the protest, saying more than 200 workers have been terminated after the Chinese company, GRAM, which owns the mine was placed into administration earlier in the year, after an underground longwall panel was flooded with water. The company representatives claimed no responsibility for inadequately managing the incident.

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GRAM is part owned by the Chinese Government.

The workers were stood down without pay for two months in March, before the company eventually went into receivership.

The Union claims many of the workers have not been paid their full entitlements, with up to 60 employees owed amounts ranging from $1,000 up to $50,000.

CFMEU also claims all senior management staff at the company have been paid 100% of their entitlements.

The Union said a stalemate in the sale of the facility is holding up the payment of final monies owed to the workers. A buyer has been found for the Cook Colliery but GRAM and the secured creditors, the Bank of China, and the China Development Bank, are at a stalemate which has impacted approval of the sale.

CFMEU National Secretary, Michael O'Connor, called on the Chinese Ambassador to intervene, and seek urgent action from the Chinese Government.

"It's now been seven months since these workers were stood down without pay, facing an uncertain future.

"The workers and their families still haven't been paid their full entitlements and have been subjected to extreme financial distress.

"Yet Cook Colliery senior management staff have been paid their entitlements in full.

"We need the Chinese Government to break the deadlock on the sale of Cook Colliery, so these workers can finally get their just entitlements."

Topics:  caledon coal canberra coal cook colliery mining



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