Workers at Appin Mine will today vote on whether to start industrial action over their pay dispute with Illawarra Coal.
The Illawarra Mercury reports that 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 of Australia (APESMA), the union representing the workers, say the increase would bring pay in line with market rates and that the company needs to recognise that key role the deputies play in the organisations profits.
"Deputies are the front-line supervisors in a coal mine and they are responsible for front-line safety, and, in a mine that's a very gassy mine with a lot of issues like Appin, it's really important that experienced deputies are working there," APESMA staff division director Catherine Bolger said.
"When you look at the rates of pay for deputies in the industry they've significantly increased over the last four years and Appin deputies are simply seeking that they be adjusted according to the market.
"It's not an unrealistic claim. It's quite a modest claim when you compare Illawarra Coal's earnings over the last four years, which was $2.258 billion."
She expects the workers to endorse industrial action as a ‘last resort.’
Illawarra Coal said it hoped the vote would not lead to action being taken.
"What is needed now is for us all to focus on our safety and production performance in order to remain a strong and viable business during these economically challenging times," a spokeswoman said.
"Illawarra Coal is interested in continuing to work with employees and their representatives to reach a reasonable agreement.
"However, at the moment the union is seeking an increase of 27 per cent in salaried wages which is out of step with market standards."
Results from the ballot are expected tomorrow.