Griffin strike threatens power

A UNION official believes that Western Australia’s power supply might be impacted if workers at the Griffin thermal coal operations go on strike over drastic pay cuts.
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Courtesy Griffin Coal

Blair Price

The Collie-based branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has revealed that one of the three wage options put forward to the troubled mine’s 220 operational workers last Thursday evening consisted of an immediate pre-tax pay cut that equated to about $A50,000 per annum on average.

“CFMEU mining and energy division WA secretary, Gary Wood, warned the mine workers would go on strike, potentially disrupting the state's power supply, if mine owner Lanco Infratech insists on the extreme wage cut,”The West Australian reported.

“Wood said workers had already agreed to forgo a 7.5% pay rise due this year under an existing pay deal to accommodate Lanco during a period of financial difficulty, but would fight cuts worth tens of thousands of dollars in the upcoming enterprise bargaining agreement.”

The union leader confirmed that a stoppage could impact the Griffin-linked Bluewaters Power Station and hurt WA’s power supplies.

On the three options, he said the first was the imposition of a 42-hour week with an additional 17.5% pay cut from existing wages.

Under the second option the workforce would shift to a 56-hour week with the 17.5% wages cut to be lifted over three years.

The third option involved a 38% pay cut and the imposition of a 35-hour week, five-day roster “which would instantly slash weekend and overtime penalties by $47,000 for the average-earning worker”

"A $127,000 a year salary would drop to $80,000 – immediately," Wood told the newspaper.

"The workers are angry, and disappointed with the way it's been managed.”

Griffin declined to comment on the press claims.

Indian conglomerate Lanco acquired the Griffin assets, a key part of former coal tycoon Ric Stowe’s failed business empire, in 2011.

In June it finally received state government approval to develop a $500 million export facility in Bunbury which would allow it to ramp up production to 15 million tonnes per annum.

After months of disputes, Carna Civil and Mining terminated its Griffin mine operating contract with Lanco in December.

The West Australian recently reported that Indian bank and Lanco financier ICICI had settled Griffin’s outstanding accounts with the “taxman and Fremantle Ports”.

FP owns the Kwinana Bulk Terminal that Griffin uses to export coal to India.

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