Wage war continues at Glencore mines

HUNTER Valley coal mineworkers from seven Glencore operations have returned to work following a four-day protected action stoppage over an impasse on a new enterprise agreement.

Lou Caruana
Wage war continues at Glencore mines

However, at Glencore’s Oaky North mine in Queensland 190 workers had been locked out by Glencore last week. 

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union national president Tony Maher said Glencore had stripped away 50% of working conditions from a version of an agreement that 99% of the Oaky North mine’s workforce previously voted down in a ballot called by the company.

“We are going to stand up to Glencore,” he said.

“We will fight to make them pay their fair share of tax and we will fight for a fair deal. If we stand up and fight back we will win.

“Over 1400 Glencore miners met in Singleton and voted to continue their action against the company over its attempts to make their jobs less secure.”

Maher said Glencore has just posted a massive half-yearly profit.

“Glencore’s revenue Australian coal operations jumped from US$1.77 billion to $3.1 billion in the last half year,” he said.

“Their cash profit on every tonne of coal produced was around 41%.

“Yet the very workers who contribute to the swollen coffers are having their wages, conditions and job security eroded by this company.”

Maher said the striking workers called on Glencore to negotiate in good faith to resolve the concerns of their employees over secure permanent jobs, fair and equal terms and conditions for contractors, and fair redundancy pay.

A Glencore spokesman said the company believed the CFMEU was pushing a political campaign at the expense of the legitimate interests of our employees.

 “Despite us engaging in good faith bargaining for some time, the CFMEU continues to misinform the public and its members in the mistaken belief that conflict is a way to create and enrich employment,” he said.

“The enterprise agreements we are negotiating at a number of our Hunter Valley coal operations retain workers’ rights to representation and remuneration well above the Australian average wage. 

“It should also be remembered that from 2011 to 2016 there was a continuous reduction in the global coal price but during this time Glencore never pursued a reduction in wages for our employees.”

According to Glencore, none of its proposed EAs included anything not already accepted in agreements at other coal operations in Australia. 

“The union has been rallying support by telling its members to take industrial action on the basis it wants to limit the percentage of contractors Glencore should be allowed to employ at our operations,” the spokesman said.

“By law, this is not a permitted matter for EA negotiations.  The union has acknowledged this and withdrawn it as an issue for negotiation.  Given it had become the primary focus of the union campaign, there should be no reason for industrial action to continue.  

“Glencore wants modern, flexible and streamlined EAs that reflect the realities of today’s work environment.  Agreements that focus on unrestricted use of every employee’s experience, skills and capabilities.  Agreements that develop our people and position our business in a competitive world market.”   

The spokesman said Glencore’s track record when it came to creating jobs and opportunities was unmatched in the Australian coal industry over the past decade.  

“In this time, our business built the coal mines at Blakefield, Ulan West, Mangoola and Ravensworth North, providing thousands of jobs in direct employment and indirectly supporting many thousands more,” he said.

“We will continue to run our operations at in a safe manner during this industrial action.”



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