June 9, 2005
Coal miners suspended
Coal miners fighting for a fair pay rise have just been suspended.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that Solid Energy had suspended workers who were refusing to load the Huntly coal train at 10am today.
Talks in Christchurch between the miners and Solid Energy and its contractors broke down last night with the company refusing to offer more than a 2.8 per cent pay rise. The workers had dropped their claim from six per cent to five per cent, in line with the union’s Fair Share – Five in ’05 campaign.
Workers at the Huntly East underground mine and nearby Rotowaro open-cast mine imposed an immediate ban on coal loading in the wake of the talks collapsing. Workers at the Stockton open-cast mine at Westport are expected to impose a similar ban, but no other industrial action is planned at this stage.
Mr Little said that it was extremely disappointing that Solid Energy and its contractors were taking such a hard line against their workers.
“All these workers want is a bit of fairness,” he said.
“Their work is difficult, dangerous and dirty. They deserve a decent pay rise, just like everyone else. Coal miners in Australia are paid nearly twice as much as these people earn.”
The miners are also seeking a commitment to pay parity between mines, and had modified the claim in an effort to make progress.