The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union will recommend to its members a proposed agreement on pay and conditions for production workers at Collie’s Griffin mine reached in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) on Wednesday.
In a statement, the FWC deputy president said negotiations had been “arduous” and taken place in the context of “trying financial circumstances for Griffin” where employees were asked to make “significant personal sacrifices to contribute to the ongoing viability of the mine”.
A further meeting on an enterprise agreement with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) for Griffin’s maintenance workers was scheduled for this week, a Griffin spokesperson confirmed.
Striking maintenance workers met with UnionsWA secretary Meredith Hammat this week as protected industrial action reached its twelfth week. She visited Collie on Monday afternoon for the filming of a short documentary on the strike.
“I spoke to the workers to let them know how important their case is for them and for all working Australians,” Ms Hammat said, pledging a renewed effort to secure donations to support the strikers and their families.
She said workplace laws had been used to cancel an agreement and force workers onto an award with “such dramatic falls in income” that would cut take-home pay and mean annual and long-service leave were paid out at much lower rates.
Such cuts could save millions, according to Ms Hammat, creating a financial incentive for employers to “exploit this loophole”.
Contractors have been engaged to fill the void left by the striking workers, and the AMWU set up a ‘Collie Fighting Fund’ to provide financial support to those without pay since the strike began.
Supporters continue to visit the picket line, including Ryan Furtado, a Maritime Union of Australia member who drove from Mandurah on Friday keen to hear firsthand the impact the strike was having on Collie families.
"I've never been on a picket line for my own job, but that's not to say I will never have to. People in my industry have done this sort of thing in the past to fight for the conditions we have today,” he said.
Collie-Preston MP Mick Murray described striking workers as a "tough bunch" who were "standing strong". He said he was disappointed the dispute had lasted so long and it was “important both parties act in good faith to agree on a mutually beneficial outcome”.