Rally planned at PWCS as strike action continues

The long running industrial dispute at the Port of Newcastle is set to continue as coal terminal workers walk off the job again today.

Hundreds of workers will rally at Kooragang Island opposite the Port Waratah Coal Services terminals this afternoon.

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) assistant secretary Ian Bray has again stated the union's long-standing position that the goal is to reach a fair deal.

"We are determined to reach an agreement, hopefully through productive discussions with the company," Bray said.

While MUA Newcastle branch secretary Glen Williams underscored that the membership of the union is solidly behind continued action.

 “Our members, who have made this terminal highly productive and operated in a framework of harmonious labour relations for many years, continue to be greatly disappointed that the company’s continued belligerence and attacks on job security are standing in the way of a fair deal,” Williams said.

Strike action by workers at the site has seen more than 85 hours of stoppages since May 15.

The dispute between workers and PWCS has been running for over 12 months.

MUA branch secretary Mick Forbes said PWCS wants to change enterprise bargaining clauses related to dispute settlement and contracting.

Forbes described the proposed changes as “union busting”.

The MUA claim anti-union proposals in the new agreements seek to undermine the safety and health of workers and tear up longstanding settlement procedures around contract issues.

PWCS has previously told Australian Mining it was hopeful a resolution would be reached.

“There is nothing that PWCS is proposing or seeking to negotiate in the new agreement that does not respect the rights of employees to belong to a union, or to be represented collectively,” he said.

The spokesman said contingency plans are in place to mitigate impacts to the local supply chain.

Chief executive of PWCS  Hennie du Plooy has said though he was ‘disappointed’ by continued industrial action by unions at the coal terminal, strikes had not affected the operation of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain.

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