Australian unions isolate miners facing attacks on pay and conditions

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Australian unions isolate miners facing attacks on pay and conditions

By
Terry Cook

15 July 2017

Mining conglomerate Glencore is continuing to demand significant cuts to workers’ wages and conditions in new enterprise agreements (EBAs) at seven coal operations in the New South Wales Hunter Valley region, north of Sydney. Each mine is covered by a separate EBA.

The company has rejected union demands for “assurances” in agreements against further casualisation. It has also opposed any changes to redundancy arrangements, which currently calculate severance payouts on a 35-hour week, rather than the average weekly hours worked by miners.

Glencore is offering only 2 percent per annum pay increases, below the rate of inflation. Some of the previous EBAs expired as far back as July 2012, so some workers have had no wage rise for five years.

Glencore’s intransience has been encouraged by the actions of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), which covers the seven sites. The union is manoeuvring behind the scenes to broker a deal acceptable to the company. It has sought to isolate the disputes at each individual mine, calling sporadic “aggregate stoppages” and strikes by “individual lodges.”

On Monday, during a second round of 48-hour strikes, around 1,300 workers from the Mangoola, Liddell, Bulga and Glendell pits, and the Ravensworth coal handling and preparation plant, attended a CFMEU meeting in the Hunter Valley town of Singleton.

The aim of the meetings was to let off steam, with union officials spouting demagogy, while suppressing any discussion of a genuine industrial and political struggle against Glencore’s agenda.

An official resolution was pushed through by CFMEU Northern District president Peter Jordan, without any discussion. It…

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