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Break-through in mines talks

Break-through in mines talks

More workers win a 5% pay rise

Coal miners will return to work tomorrow (Tuesday) after a substantial break-through in their negotiations to establish a national coalmining employment agreement.

Miners around the country tonight voted to accept a package hammered out at talks in Hamilton over the weekend.

“As a result, all industrial action by the miners and the company is lifted,” said Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little.

Some 240 miners from Huntly East, Rotowaro and Stockton mines have been suspended since July 1 when some refused to load coal trains.

The pay package will see all miners get a five per cent pay rise this year, plus a two per cent cash payment next year. Miners at Huntly East, Rotowaro, Stockton and Spring Creek mines will also get a three per cent pay rise next year, while those at Terrace and Ohai mines will get a two per cent rise next year to take into account the fact that their current collective agreements expire three months after those at other mines.

Other conditions include:

An agreement that miners at Spring Creek and Terrace mines will get an extra 1.5 per cent pay increase when the agreement expires in March 2007 in order to start bringing their pay up to the levels at other mines. A working party to look at managing the exit of miners at Huntly East mine who are no longer fit enough to work in the mine. Three-monthly meetings between senior Solid Energy managers and union officials aimed at improving the relationship.

Mr Little said that there were still some remaining issues which would be addressed in negotiations later this week.

“We hope to conclude those this week so that a final agreement can be put to members for ratification,” he said.

Negotiations for the national agreement have so far taken more than three months and have been among the toughest in more than a decade. Mr Little said that he was delighted that progress had finally been made.

“This agreement sees another significant group of workers win a five per cent pay rise, as well as re-establishing a national industrial agreement. It is a milestone for the mining industry.”

In February, the EPMU launched the Fair Share – Five in ’05 campaign for a five per cent pay rise for working people. Since then it has negotiated 245 agreements covering 6777 members, of which 219 agreements include pay rises of five per cent or more.

Ends

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