Rio Pilbara collective agreement goes to the vote

Rio Tinto’s Pilbara iron ore miners have voted in favour of collective agreements.

The first collective agreement in almost twenty years was finalised following 18 months of negotiations between the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and Rio Tinto.
It covers approximately 400 train drivers and car examiners.

CFMEU Mining Division WA district Secretary Gary Wood said that the majority of eligible employees voted in the telephone ballot.

"Many of the workers affected are fly in, fly out workers that are engaged in round the clock shift work. Yet despite these conditions which made it difficult for many to participate in the ballot, 61% (242) of the 398 eligible employees took part, and 80% (194) voted yes to the collective agreement."

He went on to say that "when Rio Tinto gave in principle support for the historic collect agreement back in June, it marked a major milestone in industrial relations in the resources sector.

"The agreement and the strong support for it open up opportunities for negotiations down the track for further collective agreements at Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton."

The proposal will now head to Fair Work Australia for approvals.

This vote comes after the Federal Court decision which ruled Rio’s previous non-union workplace agreements signed in 2008, as invalid.

The court allowed the union to bargain for future pay and conditions for workers at Rio’s operations.

While Rio gave support in principle, the legal move has worried the industry, which fears a return to the industrial action seen during the 1970s and 80s.

The AMMA said the Federal Court decisions will change industrial relations at mines in Western Australia, and labelled the ruling ‘the last thing’ the resources industry needed.

BHP has already sought legal advice on the court decision and how it may affect their operations in the region.

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