The bitter industrial dispute at the Port of Newcastle has deepened as workers at Port Waratah Coal Services go on strike for two days.
Union members working at Port Waratah Coal Services first voted to take industrial action in early May after a meeting between the unions and PWCS failed to resolve a ten month dispute over new enterprise agreements.
More than 200 Port Waratah Coal Services workers voted to take action.
The Maritime Union of Australia first warned that it would take industrial action in the form of indefinite stoppage of overtime and a ban on shift changeovers on Sunday.
However action quickly escalated to extended work stoppages of 12 and 24 hour strikes.
MUA Australia 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.
The new round of strike action will start today and tomorrow, the 7th and 8th of June, starting at 8pm on both days and stretch through the night shift until 4am.
MUA Newcastle branch secretary Glen Williams said the decision by workers to take action shows the strength of the workforce.
“PWCS continues to pursue an anti-union, anti worker approach to these negotiations in the face of a wall of unity and solidarity,” Williams said.
“The company needs to finally understand that these workers will not break.”
“It’s time the company came back to the table and ceased its campaign to wind back the rights of its employees.”
Williams added that while the unions and workers were willing to take strike action, they continue to seek a negotiated agreement.
PWCS told Australian Mining the company had been open in its negotiations.
“PWCS has been negotiating in good faith since July last year,” the spokesperson said.
“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.”
The spokesman said contingency plans are in place to mitigate impacts to the local supply chain.