Australian miners strike against Glencore cost-cutting
20 June 2017
Around 1,400 coal miners are involved in ongoing disputes over new enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) with transnational mining and resources conglomerate, Glencore, across seven of its mines in the New South Wales (NSW) Hunter Valley region. Each of the sites is covered by a separate EBA.
On Tuesday and Wednesday last week, workers at the company’s Mangoola, Liddell, Bulga and Glendell pits, along with those at the Ravensworth coal handling and preparation plant, walked out for 48 hours. The action followed a two-day strike the week before. There have also been several two-hour stoppages.
Some of the previous EBAs expired as far back as July 2012, meaning some workers have not had a wage increase in almost five years. In current negotiations, the company is offering pay rises of just 2 percent per annum over three years, well below the rate of inflation.
Glencore is rejecting union demands that the new agreements include supposed “assurances” against further casualisation. The company has also refused to bring current redundancy arrangements into line with those at other coal mining companies. While Glencore miners can work 44-hours or more per week, severance pay-outs are calculated on a standard 35-hour week.
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), which covers the mines, held mass meetings of Glencore workers last week in the Hunter Valley town of Singleton.
The purpose of the meetings was to ensure the disputes remain isolated at each individual mine. The union is seeking to dissipate anger, while causing minimal disruption to the company’s operations. At the same time, it is undoubtedly working behind the scenes to broker yet another sell-out agreement, in…