Appin mine strike ends

Supervisors at Illawarra Coal’s Appin mine will return to work tomorrow following a two week strike.

Fifty supervisors walked off the job a fortnight ago after a pay dispute with Illawarra Coal, a subsidiary of BHP Billiton, was not resolved.

The workers’ are fighting for a pay increase of 18 per cent to align with ‘market adjustments’ as well as a 4 per cent rise each year as part of a new enterprise agreement.

Illawarra Coal president Troy McDonald said the company welcomed the supervisors return to work, The Illawarra Mercury reported.

"We look forward to the Appin mine supervisors returning to work on Friday and continuing negotiations to conclude an agreement on reasonable terms as soon as possible," he said.

McDonald reiterated earlier comments that Illawarra Coal ensured it "remunerates our people fairly and competitively", dismissing claims by the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia, the union representing the supervisors, that the Appin supervisors were not receiving fair renumeration.

"It is in the company's best interests to ensure that we offer a competitive package to our mine supervisors so that we continue to attract a quality workforce.

"Our very low level of turnover for mine supervisors at the Appin mine, and the strong demand in securing these supervisor positions with the company, is evidence that we have the balance right."

However, the union’s director Catherine Bolger again said the supervisors at Appin were being paid less than supervisors at other coal mines in the state.

"As this strike draws to a close, we hope that BHP does pause and reflect on the way it is treating its employees," Bolger said.

"Let's be real. These mining supervisors have never taken industrial action before; they have been trying to negotiate with BHP for five long months and this is now the second week of industrial action. So it is a bit rich for BHP to say that they think they have the balance right.

"We really hope that BHP returns to negotiations with the goal of resolving this dispute."

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