Miners walk off the job

MACKAY: Miners at North Goonyella are taking industrial action after negotiations failed to settle a dispute over changes to rostering, hours of work, rates of pay and living conditions.

On top of the dispute, workers at the Peabody Energy mine, in a separate issue, were last night told 30 voluntary redundancies would be offered to staff across the board as part of a sweeping cost-cutting initiative.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) district vice-president Glen Power said an attempt to settle the enterprise bargaining dispute without strike action fell over last week when the company failed to respond to an offer by the union.

“The offer was a last-ditch attempt to avoid industrial dispute,” Mr Power said.

North Goonyella CFMEU lodge secretary Adrian Best said the labour “stoppages” were brought into action last Friday.

“We are doing four three-hour stoppages over a 24-hour period, where we remove our labour for that period of time,” Mr Best said.

The current rolling stoppages are expected to cease today but Mr Power said the strikes were set to ramp up over the next few weeks after a staff ballot to ascertain the group’s views about further action was held this weekend.

“A ballot will give employees the chance to ramp up or intensify the industrial action,” he said.

Depending on the outcome of the ballot, Mr Power said the miners would be able to take stoppages of up to 24 hours, or of shift length.

The dispute began after an enterprise bargaining agreement that covers all aspects of the miners’ working conditions including rates of pay, the four-day-on, four-day-off roster and living conditions expired in 2008.

It was rolled over for one year but expired on March 31. The company and union officials have since been unable to agree on conditions for a revised agreement.

“The action is based on Peabody’s radical changes from existing agreements,” Mr Power said.

Peabody Energy general manager of external affairs Jennifer Morgans said she was convinced an agreement would be reached.

“There are a number of enterprise bargaining agreement points we are still negotiating. We’ll continue those negotiations.”

Ms Morgans said yesterday North Goonyella staff were to be told last night that 30 voluntary redundancies would be offered to staff this week.

“Peabody is conducting cost-cutting initiatives across all of its US and Australian operations.

“We are offering 30 voluntary redundancies to fit a restructured model of operations at North Goonyella.”



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