Workers dispute continues at Glencore coal mine in Queensland

The Oaky North protests

An industrial dispute over workplace agreements at Glencore’s Oaky North coal mine near Rockhampton in Queensland has now spanned six weeks.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) reported last week that Glencore locked mineworkers out of the site as the dispute continued.

Strike action had been taken by mineworkers at the site, temporarily halting operations until they resumed on Friday.

Miners at Oaky North are protesting the terms proposed in a new workplace agreement by Glencore for the Oaky North operation. Glencore and the Union are expected to meet tomorrow to again discuss the proposed terms.

According to CFMEU, Glencore were continuing to refuse to provide the workers with ‘basic rights’ in the new agreement as the dispute entered a sixth week.

Protesting the Glencore proposal, the workers took the unusual step of providing community services to help improve infrastructure and local facilities in the nearby town of Tieri.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland District President Chris Brodsky said the deal proposed by Glencore would remove workers’ access to workplace representation in some cases, among a range of other issues. He added the last thing hard working miners wanted to do was sit still.

“These guys love their community and they love their job, so after the company locked them out of their own workplace, despite the fact their industrial action is protected under the Fair Work Act, they decided to give time to their community,” Brodsky said.

“They’ve been helping out at local schools and the rugby league club, shovelling sand and chip-bark into community gardens, cleaning up the girls guides hut and have presented local schools with football and rugby guernseys.”

Brodsky said workers would not be intimidated and would fight for decent conditions, and Glencore only served to damage its place in the local community by standing over local workers.

According to CFMEU, the workplace agreement proposed by Glencore would: limit workers’ access to workplace representation, allow them to unilaterally change rosters against the wishes of employees, pay workers based on profit and not hours and work, increase the cost of company’s accommodation for workers, and limit the ability of employees to have some matters determined by arbitration.