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Workers offered a pay rise after being locked out of coal mine

Boggabri Coal Mine workers
Boggabri Coal Mine workers

Coal mine staff received a major jump in remuneration just weeks after the foreign proponent locked out employees because they took months of industrial action.

The Construction Forestry Maritime Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) confirmed 86 per cent of workers have accepted a 12 per cent pay rise at Idemitsu’s Boggabri Coal Mine, 118km northwest of Tamworth.

Pay gap closes

The latest 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 CFMEU for “fair resolution of disputes”.

“For too long, coal miners in the Gunnedah Basin have been treated like the poor cousins of the industry,” CFMEU Northern Mining and NSW energy district vice president Jeff Drayton said in a public statement. “These workers have now closed the gap in conditions with the Hunter Valley and they have gone a long way towards closing the gap in pay.”

Tense standoff

The remarks came after the proponent issued a lock out notice from November 22 to December 2. The union claims this happened after an overwhelming majority of workers rejected a “substandard” pay increase promised under a new enterprise agreement. Site management also declined to meet with union representatives to discuss a resolution.The “heavy-handed” response only made workers more determined to ask for “fair pay and conditions”.

“This result has only been achieved through the unity, organisation and determination of our members at Boggabri Coal,” Drayton said. “It is a great tribute to them and a great example of what workers can achieve through collective action.”

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Boggabri mine workers were allegedly being paid between $30,000 and $40,000 a year less than those who work for the Muswellbrook Coal Mine in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley and Ensham Coal Mine in Central Queensland. They were also subject to what they call “unfair” bonus structures, a lack of support for skills training and no access to arbitration by the Fair Work Commission.

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