Solid Energy workers refuse to load trains

WORKERS at Solid Energy’s Huntly East underground mine and a nearby Rotowaro opencut mine refused to load coal trains yesterday in the wake of wage talks breaking down.

Angie Tomlinson

According to a New Zealand Press report, the workers were suspended by Solid Energy about 10am yesterday. Earlier reports from Solid Energy indicated the workers had not been sent home.

According to the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, talks with Solid Energy had fallen apart on Wednesday night. However, Solid Energy said it and the union had left Wednesday night with an agreement to resume talks at the end of June.

Previously in April, about 700 Solid Energy miners walked off the job in protest over discrepancies in pay between mines.

The union said talks had broken down because Solid Energy refused to offer more than a 2.8% rise. However, Solid Energy said the union had made demands for pay rate increases of 10% a year for most sites.

Solid Energy chief Barry Bragg said the company agreed to a multi-employer agreement (MECA) covering all its sites, working towards pay parity for its unionised workforce, and agreed to sites not currently under collective agreement negotiation joining the MECA.

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