PKCT work­ers row es­ca­lates

The Australian Mining Review - - NEWS - EL­IZ­A­BETH FABRI NSW

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).

Im­age: MUA.

More than 200 peo­ple protested at a work­ers as­sem­bly out­side PKCT on 11 Jan­uary.

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