BHP miners plan two-week strike

Supervisors at Illawarra Coal’s Appin mine will go on strike for a fortnight after voting to take industrial action over their pay dispute.

Plans to walk off the job for up to two weeks will start from the end of this week after the supervisors voted in favour of protected industrial action.

Ninety-eight per cent of supervisors voted in favour of supporting protected action in the ballot, The Illawarra Mercury reported.

About 50 mine deputies want 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.

Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia collieries staff division director Catherine Bolger said the result of the ballot showed the level of dissatisfaction the workers had over current pay rates.

‘‘This is a last resort for these supervisors,’’ she said.

‘‘They are incredibly frustrated at BHP’s hardline antics. They deserve to be paid fairly and in line with other mines in NSW and QLD.’’

“These supervisors deserve to be paid properly. They are responsible for the safety of all mine workers, the handling of explosives and making sure mine production is smooth – their work delivers huge profits for BHP.

‘‘Industry pay rates for mine supervisors have increased over the last four years, yet Appin supervisors haven’t received their fair share of that growth. They are now seeking an adjustment.’’

President of Illawarra Coal Troy McDonald said he was disappointed at the decision to commence industrial action.

‘This is clearly not a reasonable demand especially in the current challenging environment in the coal industry with falling prices and a high Australian dollar,’’ he said.

‘[The] Appin Mine supervisors’ base salaries have increased more than 18 per cent over the past four years including an average increase of five per cent in September this year.’’

The Appin mine employs about 400 people and produces premium-quality coking coal for export.

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