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Coal mine workers win a second pay rise

Idemitsu Boggabri Coal Mine
File photo of Idemitsu Boggabri coal miners

Coal operation employees have received another jump in earnings a year after tense industrial standoffs that ended with staff being locked out.

Workers recently received the second part of a staggered 12 per cent pay rise over four years at Idemitsu’s Boggabri Coal Mine, 118km northwest of Tamworth.

The decision came roughly 12 months after an overwhelming majority of workers rejected a “substandard” pay increase promised under a new enterprise agreement. The proponent had issued a lock out notice between November 22 and December 2 before finally agreeing to give “fair pay and conditions”.

The current enterprise agreement guarantees all forms of leave paid at the salary rate including sick, carers, compassionate, parental and community service. It also promises a $4000 sign on bonus and other bonuses paid as an allowance plus arbitration for matters raised by the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) for “fair resolution of disputes”.

‘Really excited’

Boggabri member Lisa Richardson believes the pay rise and better work conditions have created a much happier workplace.

“I was really excited to see that we got our leave paid as if worked. With our pay when we were sick and took sick leave, our penalties were not paid, so there were times when you would lose a couple thousand dollars in one pay just because you had a couple of sick days,” she told CFMEU’s latest Common Cause publication.

Paid up to $40K less

Boggabri mine workers were allegedly being paid between $30,000 and $40,000 a year less than those who work for the Ensham Coal Mine in Central Queensland and Muswellbrook Coal Mine in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley.

They were also subject to what they called “unfair” bonus structures, a lack of support for skills training and no access to arbitration by the Fair Work Commission.

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Lodge secretary Dave Boxsell believes the so-called Battle of Boggabri is a clear example of workers fighting for their entitlements.

“The lesson you can learn is that nothing will come easy, you are going to have to fight for it,” he said.

“You have really got to stick together, look out for each other, listen to your lodge officials … follow their lead and stick with it, do not back down.”

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