New Zealand: International solidarity as miners launch indefinite strike

Solid Energy mine workers
Solid Energy mine workers

Australian miners refused to cross a picket line yesterday at the Spring Creek coal mine as indefinite industrial action there entered its fourth day.

Submitted by Steven. on July 3, 2007

About 140 Reefton and Dunollie miners were due to meet in Runanga at 1pm to decide their next step.

In an escalation of previous action, the Spring Creek miners walked off the job on Friday morning.

They arrived late to work and when management refused to provide transport for them, the industrial action escalated to a full strike.

Miners from the Terrace underground mine, in Reefton, have since joined them. Union members from both sites were again away from work yesterday morning.

At the Stockton open-cast mine, near Westport, workers on the train-loading facility have held a series of spontaneous stopwork meetings, each lasting up to three hours.

Miners at Huntly took 20 hours strike action over the weekend.

Miners nationwide are continuing with a blanket overtime ban.

More than 800 coal miners belonging to the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) began nationwide action on June 26 for higher pay after their multi-employer collective agreement (Meca) negotiations broke down.

EPMU Spring Creek delegate Glen Campbell said about 15 miners formed a picket line yesterday morning.

The Australians, brought in to help with development work at the mine, would not cross it.

The dispute involved more than 800 coal miners nationwide and came after negotiations to renew the mining industry multi-employer collective agreement collapsed last month.

Industrial action began last week and initially involved a nationwide ban on overtime and rolling stoppages.

The union is seeking a pay rise of between 5.0 and 5.5 per cent, having fallen back significantly from an earlier demand for a 7 per cent base rise and 7% in the second year. It is now seeking a 4% rise in the first year and a cash lump sum that year of 1.5%.