Griffin Coal dispute continues

A strike over maintenance workers' pay and conditions at Griffin Coal is still ongoing after thirteen weeks.
A strike over maintenance workers' pay and conditions at Griffin Coal is still ongoing after thirteen weeks.

A strike over pay and conditions for maintenance workers at Collie's Griffin Coal has entered its thirteenth week.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), which represents them, is continuing negotiations with Griffin but workers remain angry a previous agreement was terminated and they were forced onto a new one with less take-home pay and annual and long-service leave to be paid out at reduced rates.

Last week the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and Griffin Coal reached an in-principle agreement for the mine's production workers, which CFMEU secretary Gary Wood said would be voted on over three days from November 11.

"Bargaining has taken place for quite a long period and the parties have, with the assistance of the (Fair Work) Commission, reached a position where the agreement is supported by representatives on the basis we can't take it any further," he said.

"Our agreement is a long way from being great - a $50,000 pay reduction as a result of a 25 per cent cut in base salary while reducing hours from an average of 42 a week to 36.75."

In addition, workers faced an uncertain future because of the company's financial position, Mr Wood said, with Griffin Coal's Indian owners, Lanco Infratech Limited, having gone into receivership earlier this year.

"Obviously we're concerned how the bank reacts - when the bank's in control of the business rather than the operators, with the debt incurred it's a serious concern," he said.

Mr Wood said he hoped the AMWU and Griffin could reach an agreement.

"Its almost pointless getting an agreement up for production workers if we don't have the maintenance workers, with all of their expertise, to maximise our endeavours,” he said.

"A key clause in our agreement with Griffin requires them, where possible, to employ local, so we hope to maximise opportunities for production workers in the Collie Shire to have full-time work and help our local economy.”

Supporters continue to visit striking maintenance workers at the Griffin gate, including National Tertiary Education Union WA (NETU WA) Division representative Gabe Gooding, who presented a donation of $3500 on behalf of NETU WA members.

Queensland coal workers also donated $5000 to the striking maintenance workers, equalling a donation they made in September.

“They're having the fight of their lives and we should support them,” AMWU Queensland coal industry membership spokesperson Chris Harper said.

Workers at Collie's Premier Coal have also been voting on a separate agreement on pay and conditions this week.