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Union fears armed guards will be hired to intimidate striking miners at CQ site

UPDATE: ANGLO American has released a media statement in response to ongoing industrial issues, including at a Central Queensland site. 

The company has been negotiating a new agreement with 142 workers at Middlemount's German Creek mine for two and a half years.    In the statement, the company says it "has repeatedly advised the CFMEU that the viability of certain Australian coal operations is under great threat".   "Despite some recent improvements in coal prices, economic conditions remain volatile and the Capcoal Open Cut continues to be a marginal business," they wrote.   "However, the union has continued to push for changed conditions in the Enterprise Agreement that are simply unrealistic and reckless.    "No business can commit to business constraints that limit the company's ability to compete in a global industry, especially with the current cost pressures, and it is disappointing that the CFMEU places the viability of the mine at greater risk by trying to force unrealistic claims in the workplace.   "Anglo American will continue to negotiate in good faith - but at no stage will it bow to a set of conditions that are both economically unfeasible and so restrictive that they limit the operation's ability to be competitive.   "As we advised on Friday, the company is extremely concerned at the behaviour of certain people on the CFMEU Picket Line.    "Whilst Anglo American respects each employee's right to participate in the protected industrial action at Capcoal Open Cut mine, a mine employee was injured while exercising her legal right to attend work at our mine site.    "The mine worker is being treated by specialists for injuries to her eyes caused by a laser light aimed at her by people gathered at the Camm Park picket line.    "Two other workers were also targeted by the laser lights.   "Anglo American is treating the matter very seriously and we are determined to protect the legal right of our employees not participating in the protected industrial action to attend work without intimidation or harassment.    "We again call on the CFMEU to assist in identifying those responsible for this unlawful and unacceptable behaviour on their picket line.   "Anglo American will ensure our people and property are safe, in line with appropriate and lawful measures.   "We again call on the CFMEU to take all steps to prevent any further unsafe or intimidating behaviour on their picket line or in the broader Middlemount community."  

INITIAL: THE mining union wants assurances from Anglo American that it won't employ armed guards to "intimidate workers" during proposed industrial action at the German Creek mine near Middlemount.

In a statement released this morning the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division said it had written to Anglo American's CEO, Mark Cutifani asking for assurances that proposed security guards employed by the company would not be armed, and would not follow or harass workers and their families.

CFMEU Mining and Energy District President, Stephen Smyth claims Anglo's history on similar cases points to the potential for Anglo to intimidate the union, its members and their families during the hostile industrial process that is entering its third year.

"Only last month we were told 83 workers will be made forcibly redundant by the company," he said.

"In our letter to Mr Cutifani we only asked for an assurance these drastic tactics (armed guards) weren't going to be used - he refused to do that. Now we have a case where our members and their families believe the company plans on harassing them to get an industrial outcome.

There are 142 miners undertaking stop work action right now (since 19 August). These are the workers covered by the CFMEU agreement (i.e. coal miners) whose agreement expired in April 2014 and have been waiting for a resolution on key points of the enterprise agreement.

"This is a shameful case where a mining giant is trying to heavy the community to get what they want, and it's unacceptable.

"Companies shouldn't be able to use the industrial system aimed at protecting workers against them, to maximise their profits.

"For almost three years and 17 different meetings these workers have tried to bargain in good faith, only for the process to be drawn out by a company that wants to cut corners, costs and jobs.

"These workers have the right to bargain, and the right to call for job security and safe workplace conditions - these are the problems workers want to resolve while Anglo tries to pressure them with intimidation while threatening their jobs.

"We call on Anglo to immediately stop their tactics of intimidation of CFMEU members and their families, and return to negotiations to bargain in good faith and put an end to this ordeal," said Mr Smyth.

Anglo is being contacted for a response.



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