Australian mining giant, Peabody Energy, has locked its workforce out of Helensburgh Metropolitan Colliery, New South Wales, as a dispute over the terms of a new three-year enterprise work agreement continues.
Mine workers were told last Friday they would be locked out for seven days, after the majority of the workforce voted in favour of taking further industrial action in the form of bans and limitations around production.
The move comes after Peabody idled the mine for 72 hours earlier in October as a result of disruptive industrial action, which included two 48-hour strikes and limitations by the mining workforce.
A Peabody spokesperson laid the blame of the lockout on the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), saying that the company “will idle the mine until the CFMEU and bargaining representatives are willing to remove the current disruptive working restrictions”.
“Peabody Energy has been bargaining in good faith throughout the negotiation period, and has put forward numerous offers that are fair and reasonable," the spokesperson said. The workforce, however, has been unable to vote on these offers as they have been rejected up front by the CFMEU.
Peabody has rejected the CFMEU claim for a 4% annual pay increase over the life of the agreement, and is instead demanding that they accept a pay freeze for the first year, followed by a 2% increase for each of the following two years plus bonuses.
The pay offer is below the current rate of inflation and amounts to a significant real wage cut. If the company’s demands are met, pay levels at the mine will be 20% lower than at similar operations in the region.
Edited from various sources by Katie Woodward
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