Dendrobium mine workers vote to take further industrial action

Following week-long strike action, workers at South32’s Dendrobium mine have voted to limit coal production when they return to work.

Around 200 workers voted to take further action in the form of production limits at a meeting on Monday.

Workers will end their seven-day strike at 6:30am on Friday.

Illawarra Coal president Troy McDonald said the continued action puts the ongoing viability of the mine at risk.

‘‘Continued action not only impacts employees at Dendrobium mine but also the broader Illawarra community,’’ McDonald said.

Industrial action comes after South32 and the CFMEU were unable to agree on the terms of a new enterprise agreement.

The agreements expired in April 2014 when BHP Billiton still owned the mine, which is managed by subsidiary Illawarra Coal.

South32 now owns Illawarra Coal and the Dendrobium, Appin and West Cliff coal mines after the BHP demerger in May.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Division South West District Vice President Bob Timbs said the main stumbling block is a security of employment clause which would protect permanent employment and provide future job opportunities for contract mine workers.

McDonald says existing and proposed agreement provides equivalent, if not better, security of employment than most in the country.

McDonald said the agreement offered a ‘‘clear provision on job security’’ and the company hadn’t proposed to change it.

The agreement reads: ‘‘The Company will not terminate the employment of Employees on the ground of redundancy in order to, replace the Employees with a contractor or, have the job of the Employees performed by a contractor’’.

McDonald said workers and the union should return to work “so that we can return to the table and resolve this matter’’.

‘‘It [security] is achieved by being safe, predictable and profitable; the very things this ongoing destructive industrial action is putting at risk in what is currently a very difficult business environment,’’ he said.

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