PKCT workers row escalates
A DISPUTE between Port Kembla Coal Terminal (PKCT) and a worker union came to a head in January when PKCT locked out 60 of its employees without pay for a four day period.
The lockout began on 7 January, after Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) members took protected industrial action against the company’s push to scrap its current employee enterprise agreement, in favour of a new agreement which removes existing sick leave provisions, and cuts superannuation payments.
The terminal had a replacement workforce ready to load ships during the lockout so exports were not overly affected.
At its peak the PKCT was loading more than 14 million tonnes of coal a year, but its forecast throughput for 2018 has fallen to just 5.1mt, according to the operator.
PKCT, which is owned and operated by coal mining companies South32, Glencore, Peabody Energy, Centennial Coal and Wollongong Coal, has been in negotiations with the union for a new employee agreement since 2015.
CFMEU Mining and Energy South-West vice president Bob Timbs said the lockout was an “outrageous move by PKCT” and can only serve to worsen the dispute.
“Our members have been trying to negotiate a new enterprise agreement with PKCT and instead of continuing those talks in good faith, the company has decided to lock the workforce out for five days,” Mr Timbs said.
“The CFMEU is ready to sit down with PKCT and its shareholders to find a way forward without the need to resort to tactics which will create further disruption to coal loading activities through Port Kembla.
“We know the coal companies are behind this move and we are calling on all those involved to step back and reflect on how to resolve this dispute rather than make matters worse.”
In early January CFMEU Mining and Energy members established a picket line outside PKCT across a number of days.
The members were joined by the Illawarra branches of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA); CFMEU Building and Construction; Australian Workers Union; Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union; Transport Workers Union; Rail Tram and Bus Union; and Electrical Trades Union (ETU), with the assistance of the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC).
More than 200 people protested at a workers assembly outside PKCT on 11 January.