Coal miners take action
Workers at two coal mines started industrial action at 12.30pm today as part of a national campaign for a fair-share pay rise.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that workers at coal mines across the country were seeking a six per cent pay rise. Talks broke down earlier this month with employers saying they will not agree to any pay rise.
Some 238 miners at the Huntly East and Rotowaro mines began industrial action at 12.30pm today.
“The union gave the employers notice that industrial action would start at that time,” he said.
“That means that from then, no work will be done at those mines except the loading of 15,000 tonnes of coal on to trains for the Glenbrook steel mill, which the workers have agreed to do because it is impossible for the mill to shut down at short notice. That work is expected to take until Thursday, when further action will be considered.”
Workers at other Spring Creek, Stockton and Ohai mines have also given delegates a mandate to call action, but the union is not saying what form that action will take.
The miners are also seeking parity across the country. Miners’ advocate Ray Urquhart said that pay rates had been hard-hit under the Employment Contracts Act in the 1990s, and workers were seeking to get back what they had lost.
“Generally speaking, workers at the underground mines in the South Island earn less than do those in the North Island, and workers at open-cast mines in the North Island earn less than those in the South Island,” he said.
The miners wanted employers to commit to a process of working towards pay parity between the mines, Mr Urquhart said.