ABOUT 70 Griffin Coal maintenance workers will have their wages cut by 43 per cent from next month after the industrial umpire ruled it was in the public interest.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) condemned the decision handed down by the Fair Work Commission on June 9.
The Fair Work Commission approved the application by Griffin Coal, after 12 months of pay and entitlement negotiations, to terminate the current enterprise agreement between the company and maintenance workers after its nominal expiry date in July.
After this time maintenance workers will then revert back to the Black Coal Mining Industry Award (2010), resulting in a massive 43 per cent pay cut and the loss of entitlements and conditions.
Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray said the decision could have huge effects on other workers in the coal and manufacturing industries.
“The way the precedent gets set in this industry, I have no doubt others will be sitting there licking their lips waiting for the decision to be reached,” he said.
Mr Murray said he was disappointed in the commissioner at the decision.
“There is still time for companies and unions to negotiate but at the moment the commissioner is holding a gun to the head of the workers and has put them in this position,” he said.
“The decision has far reaching implications, not only for coal but other industries locally, this could include Premier Coal, and that is of concern.”
AMWU State Secretary, Steve McCartney, described the decision as an outrageous attack on the workers and their families, and a kick in the guts to the whole Collie community.
“How can the Fair Work Commission describe this decision as being in the “public interest” when it’s the workers, their families and the whole Collie community who will suffer as a result of this company’s poor business practices,” he said.
“Here we have a foreign-owned, multi-national company, who have run this operation into the ground, and now thanks to the Fair Work Commission Griffin are able to walk away from their responsibility to their workforce and the town.
“In the end, this decision means it will be the Collie community who pay the price.”
Mr McCartney criticised the Barnett Government’s lack of transition plan for Collie and their industries.