Peabody locks out mine workers again

Peabody Energy has locked workers out of Helensburgh Metropolitan Colliery again as the dispute around a new enterprise agreement continues.

Mine workers were told on Friday they would be locked out for seven days after the majority of the workforce voted in favour of taking further industrial action in the form of bans and limitations around production.

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

A Peabody spokesperson laid the blame of the lockout directly on the CFMEU, saying that the company “will idle the mine until the CFMEU and bargaining representatives are willing to remove the current disruptive working restrictions”.

“Peabody Energy has been bargaining in good faith throughout the negotiation period, and has put forward numerous offers that are fair and reasonable," the spokesperson said.

‘‘Peabody’s workforce has been unable to vote on these offers as they have been rejected up front by the CFMEU, and protected industrial action taken.’’

According to the Illawarra Mercury, an offer by the company on Friday provided workers with no pay increase this year, but offered a 2per cent increase in each consecutive year, plus bonus components.

CFMEU south-western district vice president Bob Timbs said the union had been prepared to accept a 12-month agreement but says the deal offered by Peabody would put workers’ wages 20 per cent behind those at other operations in the region.

“They’ve offered a substantially reduced pay deal than what other miners within our area are receiving,” Timbs said.

Timbs said 200 workers unanimously rejected Peabody’s offer.

Peabody has said it will reopen the mine “should the industrial action be withdrawn”.

“Peabody remains committed to delivering an agreement which reflects current market conditions, lifts productivity, reduces costs, enhances safety and provides greater job security for Metropolitan mine employees,” the spokesperson said.

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