Workers strike for equal treatment for Gunnedah Basin coal miners

Published: 24 Sep 2019

Hundreds of workers from Boggabri Coal have walked off the job for 48 hours and attended a mass meeting in Gunnedah to stand up for pay and conditions in line with coal miners in other regions.

Workers at Boggabri Coal are attempting to win back conditions that have been lost in the past two years when their employment moved from contractor Downer to mine owner Idemitsu.

Workers are seeking to restore pay and conditions in their new Enterprise Agreement, but the current offer from Idemitsu falls far short, said CFMEU Northern Mining and NSW Energy District President Peter Jordan.

Mineworkers at Boggabri Coal are being paid $40,000 a year less than Idemitsu’s coal mines in Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley and Ensham in Queensland, with no explanation.

In addition to seeking a fair pay and bonus structure, other concerns about Idemitsu’s current Enterprise Agreement offer include:

  • Redundancy entitlements worth just half of those at Muswellbrook Coal
  • Lack of access to arbitration to resolve disputes
  • No commitment to training and skills development.

The Union’s EA claims are all conditions that had been previously held at Boggabri when workers were employed by Downer and are held by workers at Idemitsu’s Ensham and Muswellbrook coal mines.

“Workers are extremely disappointed at Idemitsu’s stubbornness. They have gone backwards since being directly employed by Idemitsu,” said Mr Jordan.

“There is no reason that workers in the Gunnedah Basin should be worth less than workers at Idemitsu’s other coal mines. They produce high quality, profitable export coal.

“Boggabri workers have shown they are willing to stand together and take on their employer for the sake of their own working conditions and industry standards in the region.”  

About 350 workers attending the mass meeting unanimously supported a resolution to seek further meetings with the company to resolve outstanding issues, continue rolling stoppages, call a further 48-hour stoppage if required and ramp up industrial action if the issues aren’t resolved.