New Coal Loader Divides Newcastle

NCIG paying workers 17 per cent below existing arrangements - MUA says NCIG pay rates divisive and unsustainable

 

The Maritime Union of Australia has labelled Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) wages - 17 percent lower than those for workers at the existing Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) terminal as cynical, divisive and ultimately unsustainable.

 "The non-union work conditions which the NCIG secured with just five workers when Work Choices was on its last legs - standing beside those negotiated under the Fair Work Act  - are laughable, destructive and unsustainable", said  Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia.

"This move to undercut wages of workers in existing agreements by 17 percent is cynical in the extreme. This new coal loader at Kooragang is largely automated and will employ some 21 workers in producing more than $6.5 billion extra export revenue by 2015. You can only see this as an ideological move by the NCIG with no regard to the rights of workers.

""You would think that it would make more than a little bit of sense to motivate workers to work to maximise this new infrastructure. Instead the NCIG management have embarked on a course that will effectively divide a crucial workforce in this city", said Crumlin.

"The PWCS and four unions have negotiated agreements amicably five times and the new mob arrive with a don't argue, archaic rule book. It's inequitable and it won't work", said Crumlin.  

NCIG's conditions compared to Port Waratah include:

  • Base rates of pay are around 17 percent lower than existing agreements ($49,621 - against the PWCS $58,031).
  • Leave loadings of 17.5% - against 45% at PWCS
  • No ability to have disputes arbitrated by Fair Work Australia (current agreements provide for conciliation and arbitration)
  • Superannuation contribution by employer 9 percent - against 16.9 percent
  • Training to be attended in worker's own time and payment included in salary - against double time at Port Waratah
  • Redundancy payments at the bare minimum - considerably below the PWCS levels
  • Overtime Monday -Saturday - less than double time against double time.

Newcastle Trades Hall has written to MPs asking them not to turn out for the official event and photo opportunity for the launch of the NCIG Terminal at Kooragang on May 3, in a vote of support for the union concerns.

"There will be a major turnout of workers, resident and community groups, friends and families from the MUA, Transport Workers Union, AMWU, CEPU and Rail Train and Bus Union, and other unions on the morning of the NCIG's official launch to tell the politicians and business leaders that all NCIG workers deserve more choice than Work Choices", said Crumlin.

 "The PWCS and four unions have negotiated agreements amicably five times and the new mob arrive with a don't argue, archaic rule book. It won't work", said Crumlin.  

Meanwhile...

The Newcastle Herald reports

Newcastle Trades Hall has written to the MPs asking them not to turn out for the official event and photo opportunity on May 3 at the BHP Billiton-backed Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group terminal, in a sign of support of unions' concerns.

Federal Newcastle MP Sharon Grierson and Federal Minister and Charlton MP Greg Combet said they would not attend the opening because of commitments elsewhere.

Swansea MP Robert Coombs, a former Maritime Union of Australia official, said he would decline any invitation.

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MPs urged to boycott Newcastle coal-loader opening over non-union agreement

Locals to rally against 'unfair contracts'

27/04/2010 | 04:22 PM

Locals to rally against 'unfair contracts'

A community rally has been planned on Kooragang Island next Monday after claims coal loader workers were signed up to WorkChoices agreements just weeks before it was phased out.