Port Kembla Coal Terminal Locks Workers Out, Hit by Industrial Action

Image Courtesy: ABC

According to reports by ABC, the Port Kembla Coal Terminal, south of Wollongong, has locked out about 60 of its workers as part of an intensifying dispute about its future.

The lockout began on Sunday after Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) members took protected industrial action to fight the terminal’s bid to scrap the current enterprise agreement.

The terminal has exported local coal since the 1960s and is currently transitioning to highly mechanised loading equipment as part of a $300 million upgrade.

CFMEU south-west district vice-president Bob Timbs said members affected by the lockout would effectively have their pay suspended for five days.

He said the union has called on the Coal Terminal’s five shareholders — Tahmoor Coal, South32, Centennial Coal, Wollongong Coal and Peabody Energy — to intervene.

“It’s industrial madness, I’ve been in the heavy industry for 30 years and I’ve never seen an attack like this,” Mr Timbs said. “I don’t know why they’re doing this, and I don’t know what the end game is for them. “We’ve done everything we can to try and get an agreement with this company. It seems like it’s everything or nothing.”

Operations at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal (PKCT) were continuing on Monday despite the lockout, with a ship loading 74,000 tonnes of coking coal to Japan.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said the lockout was a worrying and unprecedented move.

“It’s the first type of action by an employer that we’ve seen in this area, but unfortunately this is a pattern that’s happening around the country at the moment where big strong employers are resorting to tactics that are very unwelcome in our industrial landscape,” Ms Kearney said.

“One of the companies down there involved in this dispute, Glencore, has actually got quite a number of its workers locked out of another workplace in Queensland, called Oaky North, and they’ve been locked out for 180 days up there.

“That is very worrying and that is not how we do industrial relations in this country. We have always sat down, have always bargained and got a mutually beneficial outcome.”

Source: ABC

Sea News, January 9