IR already heating up

WITH the Rudd government’s new industrial relations laws to kick in next week, the coal sector has outdone all other major industries to claim the most working days lost in the March quarter due to industrial disputes.
IR already heating up IR already heating up IR already heating up IR already heating up IR already heating up

An image from one of Labor's pre-election television advertisements.

Blair Price

A lot of the IR activity was triggered by coal production cuts in the wake of the global slump in the steel market.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data published this month noted that during the first three months of the year, the coal mining sector lost 20.2 working days per thousand employees – the highest for any industry – due to industrial disputes.

The construction industry came next, with 6.1 working days lost per thousand employees during the March quarter.

For the last three months of 2008, the coal industry had zero workings days lost per thousand employees from industrial disputes, though this figure reached 46.9 during the September 2008 quarter.

Notable production cuts in the first three months of this year included Xstrata’s decision to suspend production from its Oaky No. 1 longwall mine, resulting in the loss of up to 230 jobs with 190 being contractors.

The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union was also kept busy with cuts involving Peabody Pacific, Anglo Coal Australia, Thiess, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, Macmahon and HMP Constructions.

The ABS considers the following actions as part of an industrial dispute:

Unauthorised stop-work meetings,

General strikes,

Sympathetic strikes (eg strikes in support of a group of workers already on strike),

Political or protest strikes,

Rotating or revolving strikes (ie workers at different locations take turns to stop work),

Unofficial strikes, and

Work stoppages initiated by employers (eg lockouts).

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