Dogged industrial campaign continues

Newcastle port workers are expected to strike over the weekend as a drawn-out dispute continues

Dogged industrial campaign continues
Dogged industrial campaign continues

July 12, 2013

Newcastle coal terminal workers are expected to strike today and over the weekend, as a drawn-out dispute fails again to reach resolution.

Strikes have become a regular occurrence for workers at Rio Tinto’s subsidiary, Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS), with unions and the company arguing the terms a new enterprise bargaining agreement since July 2012.

During the past year, negotiations have continually broken down resulting in mass strikes.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) yesterday announced more strikes planned for Thursday, today, Saturday and Sunday.

Members reportedly voted unanimously to 'ramp up' protected action.

MUA Newcastle Branch secretary Glen Williams says union members have given a clear message.

"We do not take this action lightly, but feel we have little choice given the company’s complete refusal to drop their claim for a watered down dispute clause," Williams says.

"We remain available to meet with the company at any time to resolve these negotiations and we would urge PWCS to seriously consider revising their position and concluding these negotiations."

A PWCS spokesperson told SupplyChain Review in May that a lot of progress had been made to reach agreement with unions and there were very few ‘sticking points’ left.

According to the spokesperson, operations continued during past industrial action.

So far, negotiations between unions and PWCS have produced over 50 agreed changes to the current enterprise agreement that will reportedly deliver further productivity and flexibility at the world's biggest coal export terminal.

The single bargaining unit representing workers comprises the Maritime Union of Australia, the Transport Workers Union, the Electrical Trade Union, and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

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