Helensburgh mine workers vote to limit coal production

The workforce at Peabody’s Helensburgh Metropolitan Colliery have voted in favour of taking further industrial action after the company locked them out of the mine for three days.

A meeting with 200 workers and the CFMEU was held yesterday where a decision was made to extend bans and limitations around production.

The move comes after Peabody said it would idle the mine for 72 hours “as a result of disruptive industrial action initiated by the CFMEU”, which has included two 48 hour strikes and limitations by the workforce.

With the operation is set to reopen this afternoon, workers have said bans and limitations will continue for a further seven days, The Illawarra Mercury reported.

The dispute between the miner and the workforce centres around new enterprise agreements.

The CFMEU claims the new agreement would freeze employees pay increases, putting their wages behind those at other operations in the region by more than 20 per cent.

CFMEU south-western district vice-president Bob Timbs said he was disappointed by the company’ actions, adding the union has made concessions to Peabody's wage-reduction demands.

"Helensburgh mineworkers just want to see this dispute resolved and they've demonstrated this by making numerous concessions during negotiations," Timbs said.

"Members have agreed to pay freezes in the next 12 months, but they will not accept the company using shareholder returns as an excuse to reduce Helensburgh wages well below that of other operations in the Illawarra."

A previous statement by a spokesman for the colliery said the company had been trying to negotiate a "fair and sustainable outcome for all employees and the company".

"Peabody is committed to working with our employees and the union to deliver an agreement which mirrors current market conditions, enables the company to manage current industry challenges and provides job security for all employees," the spokesman said.

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