The longest running industrial dispute in WA’s coal mining history is a step closer to ending following a vote by members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union. A ballot for a new enterprise agreement with Griffin Coal closed at midnight last night (February 9) with maintenance workers from the Collie mine site voting to accept the new offer.
In a hard-fought victory, AMWU members have voted up the agreement to win back their family friendly rosters, a liveable wage and their entitlements at the rate that they were accrued.
AMWU State Secretary Steve McCartney welcomed the outcome as a win, but after the toughest fight in over a century, the union is now calling for changes to Australia’s industrial laws.
“This is a significant victory for Griffin Coal workers. I’m very proud of the membership and the community for standing up to a multinational company and an industrial relations system that is weighted heavily against them. It’s a fantastic achievement for our members to protect their family friendly rosters and get back their stolen entitlements,” he said.
“Despite the pressures of foreign banks, a massive 43% pay cut, million dollar international consultants and the broken Fair Work Commission, the workers and the broader Collie community have stood together and won, the result a testament to their resolve.
“Our members’ struggle however, has highlighted a disgracefully broken industrial relations system, and the need for reform. We should be throwing out the Fair Work Act because it isn’t fair and it isn’t working.
“We need to have an even distribution of commissioners so that we can have a more balanced outcome. Consecutive conservative governments have stacked the commission and destroyed the Australian people’s faith in our industrial relations system. The Fair Work Commission isn’t just broken, it’s a train wreck,” Mr McCartney said.
AMWU members have now taken protected industrial action for 180 days, standing up for their rights and for the town of Collie. Despite delays and incompetence from Lanco, pushing the strike well beyond the historic 1911 Scottish Collieries dispute, a return to work is in sight.
The AMWU will attend a hearing at the Fair Work Commission on Monday to discuss a return to work date.