Newcastle: Workers At Rio Tinto Subsidiary Port Waratah Coal Services To Take Stop Work Action

Workers employed at Rio Tinto subsidiary Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) in Newcastle will stop work next Wednesday, May 15, as part of protected industrial action against the company.

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The decision to take the stop work action comes after a bargaining meeting with PWCS on Tuesday, during which the company stonewalled and refused to make any changes in their anti-union proposals.

As a result, Maritime Union of Australia members along with members of other unions at PWCS will engage in a four-hour work stoppage between 10am and 2pm next Wednesday.

“PWCS has shown no commitment towards securing an agreement and instead management are opting to run an ideological war against their workers,” MUA assistant national secretary Ian Bray said.

“This step is a carefully considered response to the company's lack of willingness to settle this dispute.”

MUA Newcastle branch secretary Glen Williams said PWCS’ anti-union proposals were seeking to undermine the safety and health of workers, tear up longstanding settlement procedure of contract issues, and radically change the scope of matters that can be arbitrated.

“This four-hour stoppage will give us an opportunity to fully inform all members at one time about the continued refusal of the company to engage in the give-and-take of fair bargaining,” Mr Williams said.

“This dispute has nothing to do with productivity or flexibility. We have enjoyed a long period of industrial harmony where both management and its employees have been able to resolve all their issues at the workplace without the intervention of the industrial umpire.

“What has changed? PWCS has brought in a new HR manager who has brought with him a heavy handed and outdated approach to industrial relations that has dissolved years of mature and cooperative relations between the parties.”

Negotiations between union members and PWCS have been ongoing for more than eight months, with a single bargaining unit representing workers comprising the Maritime Union of Australia, the Transport Workers Union, the Electrical Trade Union, and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.