Workers secure improved conditions at coal site following industrial action

Contract workers at the Wongawilli Colliery in the Southern Coalfields of New South Wales have ended their industrial action against site owner Wollongong Coal ahead of schedule.

The workers began their protected industrial action in relation to an enterprise agreement dispute between the workers and their contractor CAS Mining on January 14.

Wollongong Coal, a subsidiary of Indian company Jindai Steel and Power, employs a 100 per cent casual workforce at the colliery through CAS, some of whom have complained of poor pay and conditions.

Workers will now receive pay and working conditions in line with permanent employees at other mine sites in the district as part of the strike resolution.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) was pleased with the resolution, with district vice president Bob Timbs calling it a “crystal clear example of union power”.

“The conversion of permanent, well paid jobs into poorly paid, insecure jobs is a huge issue right across the country,” CFMEU general president Tony Maher added.

“What this win proves is that the trend is reversible. If labour hire workers join their union, we can turn this around.”

The strike was scheduled to involve periods of 24-hour stoppages over a one-week period, but ended early this morning in an amicable resolution, according to a statement released by Wollongong Coal.

Initially, the workers had announced plans to extend the action by an extra week before coming to a mutual agreement with Wollongong Coal and CAS.

“We have offered to assist and support the labour hire contractor in meeting the contract miners’ demands to ensure the dispute comes to an early resolution and miners are not severely financially impacted as a result of a lengthy strike,” Wollongong Coal chief operating officer Wayne Sly said.

“We made our decision based on what would be the best outcome to benefit miners and their families.”

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