PWCS hopeful dispute can be resolved


Port Waratah Coal Services hopes its latest offer to four unions will resolve an impasse reached over a new enterprise agreement

PWCS hopeful dispute can be resolved
PWCS hopeful dispute can be resolved

By Anna Game-Lopata | May 7, 2013

Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) hopes its latest offer to four unions representing workers at Kooragang Island and Carrington will resolve an impasse reached over a new enterprise agreement.

The leading coal handling business based at Newcastle Port will meet the unions on Wednesday in an attempt to resolve the outstanding issues.

The Maritime Workers Union of Australia (MUA), Transport Workers Union (TWU), Electrical Trade Union (ETU), and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) yesterday threatened protected industrial action over proposed changes to their agreement which expired in October 2011.

The unions and PWCS have been in negotiations since July last year to develop a new agreement satisfactory to all parties.

Their key claims include changes to the agreement's dispute procedure and contract labour clauses which respectively, they say, will restrict the union's ability to challenge the company and threaten job security.

In addition the unions want PWCS to agree to allow sick or injured members to take leave without pay as a qualifying period before they can access their salary continuance insurance, rather than "forcing them to use up all their leave" which they say is currently the case.

While PWCS spokesperson Paul Chamberlin says the organisation doesn't wish to pre-empt Wednesday's meeting, he denies the approach has been in any way "anti-union" or "anti-collective bargaining".

"PWCS continues to negotiate in the usual way it always did, in good faith," Chamberlin says.

Chamberlin says PWCS is looking at an agreement which increases productivity and flexibility, but stopped short at addressing each of the unions claims until tomorrow's discussions have taken place.

"We are hopeful we can continue the negotations and are waiting on the unions' response to PWCS' latest offer."

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