A dispute between train drivers and Pacific National, the biggest coal carrier in NSW, has escalated with workers deciding to go on strike this weekend and the company cutting its pay offer.
The Rail Tram and Bus Union, which represents the train drivers, said it has notified the company it will stage a 24-hour strike from noon on Friday.
In turn, Pacific National Coal, which walked out of talks with the union last week after a year of failed negotiations, said it would reduce its offer of a 4 per cent per year salary increase over three years, to 3 per cent each year over the same period
The union's national secretary, Bob Nanva said it had "no option other than industrial action" after Pacific National brought an end to negotiations.
“Any Pacific National customer with concerns about this weekend’s stoppage needs to ask Pacific National management why it is conducting an ideological union busting campaign against the RTBU, rather than getting on with the task of moving coal," he said.
“The company’s offer was voted down by 85 per cent of the workforce in December, before members voted to endorse industrial action in January. This company is disconnected from the needs of its workforce.”
The company said it would retain the 4 per cent offer to members who don’t take industrial action. Mr Nanva said it had introduced Howard government style individual agreements. Pacific National Coal director, David Irwin said the company will shut down for at least 24 hours, preventing 300,000 tonnes of coal, worth more than $25 million to the NSW economy, from reaching the port
“In an increasingly challenging economy, where we are seeing extensive job losses and mine closures amongst our customers, we have offered a very generous wage increase of 4 per cent each year, against the RTBU’s exorbitant publicly stated wage claim of 9%, 7% and 7%," he said.
"There are no productivity trade-offs included in the proposed agreement which further highlights the extreme nature of the RTBU wage claims."
Multinational coal companies Xstrata and Whitehaven had also threatened legal action against union members if the strike goes ahead.