Pilbara workers down tools after CFMEU meeting

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Workers on CITIC Pacific Mining’s $5.1 billion Sino Iron project in the Pilbara walked off the job yesterday after meeting with CFMEU heavyweight Joe McDonald.

According to The West Australian a Sino Iron worker said around 200 people stopped work after meeting with McDonald but they were expected to return today.

The unnamed worker said the strike was in protest against a move by CITIC’s subcontractors to extend shifts from 10.5 hours to 12.

They said the strike was also over payments to the site’s Chinese workers, which have reportedly fell 40 per cent below wages paid to locals for the same work.

CITIC Pacific is a Hong Kong-based company and says the Sino project represents "one of China’s largest investments into the Australian resources sector".

According to The West Australian CITIC is 18 months behind schedule on the project, and the Australian Mines and Metals Association has warned WA risks losing its status as the nation’s powerhouse if industrial action keeps rising.

A CITIC spokesperson told The West Australian the amount of workers on strike was not 200 but closer to 80.

They said construction of the Sino project was continuing as normal.

After decades of waning influence in the Pilbara unions are strengthening their presence in the region.

Earlier this month Rio Tinto lost a long running High Court Battle with the CFMEU over collective bargaining agreements for the company’s Pilbara iron ore workforce.

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