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Coal miners strike for fair pay

Coal miners strike for fair pay

Miners from the Strongman and Spring Creek underground coal mines are the worst paid in the business – and they are doing something about it.

All 88 of them walked off the job at midnight last night and won’t be back until 7am on Saturday.

They are now picketing the main entrances to both mines, as well as the Rapahoe coal loadout centre and the railway junction at Stillwater. Train drivers have refused to cross the picket.

EPMU organiser Tim Hix said that the Strongman and Spring Creek miners were paid 20 per cent less than were their colleagues at Huntly.

“These guys have helped Solid Energy through the lean times over the past seven years by accepting small, and even nil, pay increases,” he said.

“Now it’s the good times, and they want a share of it,” he said.

In the last financial year (to June), Solid Energy made a profit of $38.1 million – more than six times more than the previous year’s $6m profit. Latest figures show that in the six months to December, the company made$26.3m, well up on the same period in 2001, when it made $15.9m.

Coal from the Strongman mine is exported mainly to Japan, where it is used in steelmaking. The Spring Creek mine is still in the developmental phase.

Strongman convenor of delegates Harold Gibben said that the men were in good heart.

“It’s our turn,” he said. “We’ve helped the company over the years, and now it’s time we got something back.”

Mr Hix said that he hoped to get back to talks with Solid Energy soon.

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