NEWCASTLE: PWCS Workers To Stop Work Tomorrow

Workers at Rio Tinto’s subsidiary Port Warpath Coal Services (PWCS) in Newcastle will go through with a planned stop work action on Wednesday, as international pressure grew on the company to modify its anti-union proposals.

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The decision to continue with the planned stop work action comes after a bargaining meeting today with PWCS, during which the company and the union did not reach agreement on the fundamental issues. As a result, MUA members and members of other unions will engage in the planned four-hour stoppage from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow.

"We have said from the beginning that we hope to find resolution with PWCS,” said Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary of the MUA and President of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).

“The history of the enterprise bargaining with PWCS has been one where we work out the differences and get an agreement and move on. I have taken up this issue internationally within our worldwide maritime and mining union network.

“In addition, the 4.5 million-member ITF is keenly aware of the dispute, as is IndustriALL, which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors. I have pledged to keep the ITF and IndustriALL fully briefed on the situation so each global federation can consider what actions need to be taken to support our efforts to achieve a fair agreement."

Ian Bray, MUA Assistant National Secretary, commenting about today’s negotiations, said: “Despite the stiff resistance we have encountered from PWCS today, we remain committed to secure an agreement but, at this point, we are utilizing the other legal tools at our disposal which includes Wednesday’s work stoppage.”

PWCS’ anti-union proposals are seeking to tear up longstanding dispute settlement procedures and radically change the scope of matters that can be arbitrated, which is a direct attack on workers' job security.

Glen Williams, MUA’s Newcastle branch secretary, said, “The Company has refused to concede on the Dispute clause and have made veiled references to new wording for the Contractors clause. What is PWCS hiding or planning by seeking to weaken clauses that relate to permanent jobs and contracting work out?"

Talks between union members and PWCS have seen more than eight months of negotiations. The single bargaining unit representing workers comprises the Maritime Union of Australia, the Transport Workers Union, the Electrical Trade Union, and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

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