Up to 90 workers will be cut at Anglo American’s German Creek coal mine following a series of industrial actions and failed EBA negotiations.
The previous EBA expired in early April, 2014, and since that time meetings have been held, but an agreement is yet to be reached.
“There have been 16 separate Enterprise Bargaining meetings since negotiations began,” CFMEU mining and energy division QLD district vice president Glenn Power said.
The CFMEU are seeking to remove a casual clause to ensure fulltime, permanent jobs and halt casualisation of the workforce; inclusion of the industry standard for accident pay; a better process for Fair Work Commission arbitration in unresolved disputes; and continuation of current remuneration rates.
Following this breakdown in negotiations, workers carried out protected industrial action, however tensions soon flared when it was revealed that Anglo American was advertising for a workforce to replace its striking miners.
“The firm [is] resorting to cold-calling known coalmine workers and offering them a sweetheart deal better than those offered to existing employees,” the CFMEU said.
Anglo American has rejected these claims, stating, “We are not hiring strike breakers.”
“However the mine has been operating since the strike action commenced using its existing employees who are not participating in the strike – all of which is simply the Company exercising the rights available to it under the law,” an Anglo American spokesperson said, adding, “We expect mine management to continue to do so.”
Now Anglo American has cut its workforce, with up to 90 workers likely to lose their jobs.
The cuts will mostly be in production roles, with about 10 maintenance and 20 coal handling and preparation plant roles also to be affected, according to The Daily Mercury.
An Anglo American spokesperson said the cuts are due to ongoing weakness in the coal market.
“Despite the recent increase in coal prices the proposal to permanently park a full pre-strip circuit is considered to be the best option to ensure the long-term viability of the operation,” the spokeswoman said.
“If the proposal proceeds following consultation, Anglo American is proposing to conduct a forced redundancy process which will result in a headcount reduction of 90 roles across the site.”
Power called it yet another blow for workers who have tried to bargain in good faith with the company for the last three years since the expiration of their former agreement.
“This premeditated and coordinated attack by Anglo is nothing but a tool of intimidation aimed at picking off workers who are vocal about protecting their rights and conditions,” he said.
“It is despicable that under our current industrial system, a company can drag a bargaining process along for almost three years, have no intention to bargain in good faith, and simply get rid of workers who are only trying to do what’s right for them and their families.
“Adding further insult to injury, this announcement comes after reports the surge in coal prices will bring an additional $4 billion to Queensland’s economy this year alone.
“Miners in German Creek have contributed years of loyal and faithful service to Anglo, as well as added millions of dollars’ to the company’s bottom line.
“This mining giant has been on a road of cutting corners, cutting wages and hurting our workers’ job security since the agreement expired. Their prolonged lack of co-operation, their continual sabotage of the bargaining system and now this vicious attack on our workers reek of corporate greed and little regard for how their behaviour will have adverse effects on regional communities.
“We call on Anglo American to immediately retract their position and return to the bargaining table in good faith to reach positive outcomes for the community,” he said.
The German Creek miners will reportedly continue to carry out industrial action.