Collie Western Australian Workers Victorious After Australia’s Longest Coalfields Dispute
After 180 days of strike action and over 2 years of contract negotiations, with Indian muiltnational Lanco maintenance workers at Griffin Coal in Collie, Western Australia, returned to work at 7 am today.
The 29 maintenance workers – all members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) – had been on strike for exactly 6 months, since August 2017. The workers entered their shift with an honour guard from the community and other trade union members.
“This is a victory for the members, they’ve fought to restore their family friendly rosters and rescue their stolen entitlements,” said AMWU WA Secretary Steve McCartney.
“These workers are the text book example of how critically broken Australia’s workplace laws are. They have faced a termination of their conbtract from Griffin Coal, a long and drawn out struggle over more than 2 years, and a massive cut of 43% of their take home wages.
“This community has stood together and stood defiant against Lanco a multinational Indian owned company. They’ve protected their family-friendly rosters and gotten back their stolen entitlements – but it should have never been allowed to happen. This could all have been avoided if the Australian industrail laws were fair and we had a system that delivered workplace democracy.
“This is a victory of the entire Collie community, that has stood by Griffin Coal workers every step of the way.”
Lead delegate Jay Scoffern said that the dispute had been long and bitter, and had taken its toll on workers and the entire community.
“Collie is close knit community and we want to thank the entire town for their support of us through the whole time,” he said.
“We also want to thank the unionists from every union who have backed us up and sent us their solidarity. Their support helped to keep us going.”
Mr McCartney said that Griffin Coal’s actions throughout this process – terminating an agreement, cutting pay by 43%, and attempting to steal entitlements and force anti-family rosters on a regional community – demonstrates why the rules are broken.
“We need to be throwing out the the current Australain laws and demanding a system that respects workers, respects families and can’t be used as a weapon by foreign multinationals,” he said.
Griffin coal is owned by Indian muiltnational Lanco.
Today in Sydney and Melbourne Australia, hundreds of unionists joined the ITCU International day of action and rallied in support of jailed Korean trade union leader Han Sang-gyun.
Han is the former president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU and is still serving a three-year sentence in Hwasung Correction Centre. Mr Han lead the trade union against the regressive labour reforms under the former Park Geun-hye government.
The rallies in Australia were organised by SIGTUR, APHEDA and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), and supported by a range of unions.
Unionists in Australia are calling for their immediate release and calling for the rights of unionists around the world to be respected.