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Striking miners suspended

9 June 2005 (Updated at 5.15pm )

Striking miners suspended

Solid Energy has this afternoon suspended eight striking coal miners at Huntly in the Waikato and Ngakawau, near Stockton, north of Westport, saying that it is surprised and extremely disappointed with today’s industrial action.

Solid Energy and the EPMU spent a full day in negotiation with a mediator yesterday and left the table at 7pm with an agreement to resume talks at the end of June.

Chief Operating Officer, Barry Bragg says: “While both sides are still some way apart, the union gave no indication that they were contemplating industrial action which flies in the face of ‘good faith bargaining’”

Solid Energy has offered its employees an average payment of 6% per annum for the next three years, but the union countered yesterday with demands for pay rate increases of 10% per annum for most sites.

As a result of the strike action, Solid Energy suspended five striking mineworkers at Huntly and three at Ngakawau for:
Refusing to load coal trains and trucks at Huntly East Mine, interrupting supply to North Island customers including New Zealand Steel’s Glenbrook Mill and Genesis Energy’s Huntly Power Station. Work at Rotowaro is carried out by contractor, Henry Walker Eltin Ltd.

Refusing to load trains at Ngakawau coal handling facility (Stockton) interrupting export shipments and supply to South Island customers.

Workers at the company’s Rotowaro Opencast Mine, near Huntly, employed by contractor, Henry Walker Elton, are also refusing to load coal trains and trucks.

Solid Energy Chief Operating Officer, Barry Bragg, said: “Solid Energy has met virtually all the union’s significant claims. We have agreed to a multi-employer agreement (MECA) covering all our sites. We have agreed to work towards pay parity for all our unionised workforce. We have agreed to sites not currently under collective agreement negotiation joining the MECA.

Average remuneration for Solid Energy employees on collective agreements (mineworkers and tradespeople), currently under negotiation, ranges from $57,900 to $76,700 including overtime, but excluding profit share arrangements. The average national wage for Solid Energy employees on collective agreements currently under negotiation is $65,800.

Barry Bragg concludes: “Solid Energy is a good employer. We pay our staff two to three times the national average wage; we have made a profit sharing scheme available to all employees, along with subsidised superannuation, medical insurance and life insurance.

“In the last two years Solid Energy employees covered by these collective negotiations have received pay increases and profit share payments totalling almost 7.5% per annum, on average. Solid Energy has already exceeded the EPMU’s national campaign of ‘5% in 05’.

Solid Energy and the EPMU commenced negotiations for new collective agreements covering mining sites on the West Coast, in the Waikato and in Southland, in February. The negotiations involve five other employer parties contracted at Solid Energy mining sites.

ENDS

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