Australia: Port Kembla Coal Terminal locks out workers


Australia: Port Kembla Coal Terminal locks out workers

John Harris

25 January 2019

Port Kembla Coal Terminal (PKCT), located near Wollongong, an industrial city south of Sydney, began a seven-day lock-out of its entire permanent workforce on Saturday morning. The attack is part of a longstanding attempt by the company to impose sweeping cuts to wages and conditions.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), which covers the site, has done nothing to oppose the lock-out. It has limited the workers to an isolated picket at the front of the facility and has sought to prevent any broader mobilisation in their defence. During previous lock-outs at the site, union “pickets” have not prevented company operations from continuing with casual and contract labour.

PKCT ships coal mined in the Illawarra region to ports across the country and internationally. It is owned by major mining companies including PeaBody Energy, South32, Wollongong Coal, SIMEC mining, Centennial Coal and Glencore.

Management imposed the lock-out to prevent partial strikes that were slated to begin this week. The 51 permanent workers at the site were preparing to take one-hour on, one-hour off stoppages that the company claimed would jeopardise two weekend shipments worth $60 million.

The lock-out is part of a four-year dispute that began when the previous enterprise agreement (EA) expired in early 2015.

The company has threatened to shut the facility if workers do not accept “flexible” conditions in a new EA. PKCT has claimed that major mining companies are increasingly shipping coal through ports in Newcastle, an industrial city north of Sydney, because of cheaper costs. PKCT reported last year that coal loading volumes at the facility have declined by more than…

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