PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) workers, in Newcastle, were expected to undertake a two-day industrial action over the weekend, starting at 20:00 each evening and stretching throughout the night shift until 04:00.
The protected action revolves around a dispute about workplace conditions.
“PWCS continues to pursue an antiunion, antiworker approach to these negotiations in the face of a wall of unity and solidarity,” Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Newcastle branch secretary Glen Williams said.
“Well over 95% of the workforce voted in favour of industrial action to defend conditions of employment that have delivered a tripling in productivity and boundless flexibility in the business.
“The company needs to finally understand that these workers will not break. It’s time the company came back to the table and ceased its campaign to wind back the rights of its employees.”
Williams added that the unions and workers, while ready to take protected industrial action, continued to seek a negotiated agreement.
“We seek a return to a cooperative and consultative approach to resolving disputes in the workplace,” he said.
“We will continue to exercise our rights to protected action in support of our claims and would urge the company to cease their attack and reach agreement on outstanding matters so that we can all get back to the job of loading ships and breaking records of productivity and efficiency.”
The MUA’s industrial action has garnered support from the Coal Terminal Action Group (CTAG), with spokesperson Paul Winn saying that it was not in the interests of the Newcastle community for workers at the loaders to have their job security undermined by cost saving measures designed to protect the profits of coal companies.
CTAG has criticised both PWCS and the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group for failing to implement best practice dust minimisation such as covering stockpiles, wagons and conveyors.
“We don’t critisise the men and women working at the coal loaders but the coal companies and the governments who are putting profits before the health and wellbeing of the Newcastle community.
“CTAG is fully behind the workers' industrial action and wishes them all success,” Winn said.