Published: 23 Mar 2022
Workers at the Kestrel Coal mine near Emerald are urging bosses back to the table to talk fair pay and conditions after voting down a substandard offer that does not secure important conditions in their Enterprise Agreement and locks in pay inequities.
In an overwhelming rejection of the company’s agenda, 97% of employees voted NO to an offer by Kestrel Coal Resources (KCR) for a proposed new Enterprise Agreement (EA).
Mining and Energy Union Queensland Vice President Shane Brunker says workers’ concerns centred around attempts to leave crucial entitlements such as redundancy and medical benefits out of the EA, and salary inequities between workers doing the same job.
“Instead of dealing with workers’ well-known concerns as represented by the workforces’ bargaining team, KCR is proposing to undertake an anonymous survey that will further delay bargaining and reaching an agreed outcome,” says Shane Brunker.
“While KCR management is bragging to mining journals about big productivity increases and telling everyone who’ll listen "Our most important resource is our people” they’ve simultaneously been delaying their workers’ annual pay rise.
“These workers are about to perform the most high-risk phase of mining, moving the longwall equipment to the next block, and these delaying tactics from KCR are a distraction stopping workers focusing on the job at hand and that leads to accidents and incidents from my experience.
“These workers’ EA expired in December, so KCR knows every month they delay they don’t have to increase their workers’ pay as they usually would each year.
“Simultaneously KCR has been pocketing tens of millions of dollars due to sky-high coal prices.
“This ‘survey’ is just a way to delay workers’ and their families getting a normal annual pay increase like any worker in Australia.
“KCR doesn’t need a survey to tell them workers want a decent pay increase and crucial entitlements such as redundancy and medical benefits secured within the EA, rather than in meaningless company policies which have no legal recourse, and which can be removed any time.
“Workers also want salary equalisation as currently workers’ working side by side doing the same job are on quite different rates of pay for no apparent reason, this also needs to be fixed as it causes friction in the crews.
“The strong EA vote shows the workforce are united in their position, we are calling on KCR to come to the table straight away and engage in genuine bargaining with workers’ representatives, the bargaining team is ready and waiting.
“Workers were especially motivated to achieve a fair EA because of the tonnage they are producing and the profits they are currently delivering for the company.
“Production at the mine has almost doubled since KCR purchased the operation in 2018 all thanks to the workers’ commitment, now all they want in return is respect with a fair workplace agreement.
“If KCR doesn’t change its position soon all options will be considered by the workers’ to bring KCR management back to the table,” says Shane Brunker.