CFMEU: Strike breakers and safety shutdowns at Collinsville

LEIGHTON subsidiary and mine operator Thiess could be facing a long standoff with the workforce at Xstrata’s Collinsville open cut coal mine on the northern tip of Queensland’s Bowen Basin with the strike already running for a week.
CFMEU: Strike breakers and safety shutdowns at Collinsville CFMEU: Strike breakers and safety shutdowns at Collinsville CFMEU: Strike breakers and safety shutdowns at Collinsville CFMEU: Strike breakers and safety shutdowns at Collinsville CFMEU: Strike breakers and safety shutdowns at Collinsville

Collinsville mine, image courtesy of Xstrata Coal.

Blair Price

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union district vice-president Steve Pierce told ILN the 200 workers were still on strike and there had been no contact from Thiess.

Pierce added that Thiess was trying to move coal out of the mine using company staff, and possibly staff from one of its other operations.

He said Thiess was bringing people in and out of the mine in “a red Commodore with towels hanging out over the windows”.

Even government safety officials are concerned about these moves.

Pierce said industry safety and health representatives shut down the mine for more than 24 hours from Sunday going into Monday.

“Basically they didn’t have people appropriately trained and authorised,” Pierce said.

While other media reports suggested Thiess was in negotiations with the union, Pierce said this was not the case

“We haven’t had any word from Thiess,” he said.

A picket is being manned 24 hours a day at the mine entrance and the workers have protected action until the end of this week – but this could be extended by making another application to Fair Work Australia.

Pierce said the workers were reviewing their position daily.

The industrial action comes as both the workforce and company management fail to agree to a new enterprise agreement, with the previous EA expiring 2.5 years ago.

However, the workers have only recently resorted to taking industrial action.

“Their patience has run out – it has been sorely tested,” Pierce said.

The union representative said the main outstanding issue was the inclusion of a job security clause into a new enterprise agreement.

There are fears the dispute could continue for some time yet.

“It could potentially be a long, protracted stoppage,” Pierce said.

An Xstrata spokesman provided an update on the strike at Collinsville.

“We are monitoring the situation and keeping customers informed,” he said.

“We are disappointed with the union’s decision to take industrial action, which is not in the interests of our employees or the viability of the operation.

“We hope the matter can be resolved by Thiess and the CFMEU in the best interests of the viability of the Collinsville operation.”

The Collinsville thermal and coking coal mine has capacity to produce 6 million tonnes per annum and is a joint venture of Xstrata (55%), Itochu Coal Resources (35%) and Sumitomo (10%).

Thiess did not comment.

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