West Cliff coal miners continue strike threats

 Close to 300 miners at the West Cliff coal mine are likely to strike next week over ongoing pay disputes.

CFMEU district vice president Bob Timbs warned of a week long strike from Wednesday unless a deal is negotiated, the Illawarra Mercury reports.

Timbs explained that the offer from mine owner, BHP Billiton, did not meet their demands.

The union is demanding a 4.5% pay raise and changes to the bonus scheme.

"We’re asking for something that we believe is comparable to other BHP Billiton operations," Timbs said

"The company is sort of going backwards with their offers so the only place for us to go forwards is to start taking this industrial action," he stated.

John Brannon, from West Cliff, confirmed that an employee ballot regarding industrial action had taken place, and it supported a strike.

However, he went on to say "the company has not been notified of any protected action at this stage and discussions with the union are continuing".

Brannon’s statements were rejected by Timbs, who said the company was notified.

"I hope that we don’t have to carry through with the industrial action as we are meeting with the company on Tuesday and hope to come to some agreement," Timbs added.

This industrial action is just the latest to hit the Illawarra region, as the nearby Port Kembla Coal Terminal threatens to strike.

Negotiations at the port reached a standstill this week after unions knocked back a pay increase of 4.3% for their continued demand of a 4.5% raise.

"At this stage if we can’t come up with an agreement by 7am next Wednesday, we’ll be shutting down the Port Kembla Coal Terminal for seven days," he told the Mercury.

"Port Kembla Coal Terminal management, under advice by BHP Billiton, are trying to have some jobs which are under the agreement removed," Timbs said.

"The other thing is some certainty on manning levels."

While coal terminal general manager Peter Green refused to comment on the stumbling blocks in the agreement, he did say that negotiations are continuing.

Rolling industrial action is still ongoing at BHP’s joint venture BMA coal mines in Queensland.



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