Victory For ILWU Miners

Workers win their "David vs. Goliath" fight for good jobs with Rio Tinto

International Longshore and Warehouse Union members in the Californian town of Boron have overwhelmingly endorsed a contract the union successfully negotiated with Rio Tinto after a three month lockout.

In a weekend media release the ILWU described the new contract as an important victory for working families & communities that stood together against corporate greed.

On announcing the victory, the ILWU sent special thanks for the  "support and solidarity that the MUA and CFMEU (Mining and Energy) provided to the families in Boron."

Australian mining and maritime unions staged protests in Melbourne and Fremantle and National Secretary Paddy Crumlin visited the mine in April.

Other officials, including Andrew Vickers, CFMEU, Mick Doleman, Warren Smith, Dean Summers and Bernie Farrelly, MUA have also visited the mine in solidarity with the ILWU as part of the Mining and Maritime initiative.

ILWU Secretary Treasurer Willie Adams brought the struggle to Melbourne  with locked out miner Terri Judd in April for the Rio Tinto AGM. Performers led by actor Samantha Bond, AWU joined the MUA and CFMEU mining to stage an Avatar protest outside the Rio Tinto HQ after the AGM was cancelled.

The ILWU and other unions also used political pressure to stop a federal handout of tribal lands in Arizona to Rio Tinto for copper mining.

In May the company agreed to return to the negotiating table with a federal mediator.  Marathon negotiations led by ILWU President Bob McEllrath over the following days went late into the night with the final breakthrough coming at 1am on Friday morning. 

"Local 30 President Dave Liebengood, the Negotiating Committee and all the members deserve credit for standing up and sticking together to make this victory possible," he said. 

The agreement between Rio Tinto and workers represented by the ILWU  Local 30 was endorsed by members (275 yes; 95 no) on Saturday, May 15.

The ILWU reports the agreement calls for annual 2.5% wage increases in each year of the 6-year pact. Workers maintained protection against discrimination and favouritism involving promotions, shifts, scheduling, and overtime assignments.

Current employees will continue to receive good retirement pensions; newly hired employees would receive 401(k) savings plans paid for by the company, the ILWU reports. 

In January the  company attempted to force the miners to savage cuts on working conditions and job security.

The new agreement ensures

• the company can’t convert full-time jobs into part-time temp positions

·   Protections in place against discrimination and favoritism

·    Guaranteed annual wage increases in 6-year pact