800 coal miners with the EPMU have been engaged in industrial action since Monday June 25th after negotiations in their multi-employer pay agreement (meca) broke down earlier this month.
The miners are seeking a 5 - 5.5% pay increase, while Solid Energy (which directly employs 1/3 of the miners and the rest indirectly via contractors) has refused to go higher than 4%.
The action started with an overtime ban, enacted on Monday, and "spontaneous rolling stoppages" at sites around the country since Wedneday. Additional informal action has also taken place, with miners turning up late to shifts, leaving early and refusing to load trucks.
On Wednesday night, Solid Energy's largest mine, Stockton, was shut down after Doug Hood Mining workers, who remove overburden and mine coal, all walked off the site in solidarity with 3 workers who refused to accept final warning notices, as they had not recieved verbal or first written notices as per the agreement.
Friday saw further escalation after Solid Energy refused to transport miners at the Spring Creek mine to the mine entrance after the miners struck for the first two hours of the morning shift. In response, rather than walk the dangerous 2km road in hazardous weather conditions wearing full mining gear, the 45 miners decided to go home. Friday afternoon saw the Spring Creek miners along with those at the Terrace mine vote to not return to work until Tuesday at the earliest. Both Huntly and Stockton mines are also expected to have stoppages during the weekend.
Ged O'Connell, EPMU Acting National Secretary said "This strike action is a message to Solid Energy that our members will not be bullied, they will not put their safety at risk, and they will continue to fight for a decent pay rise."