Workers at Peabody Energy’s Helensburgh Metropolitan Colliery have established a protest camp at the mine’s main entrance in response to being locked out over an ongoing pay dispute.
Workers were locked out for seven days from Saturday after the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union rejected the company’s latest three-year pay deal.
The offer would have meant workers received no increase this year, and 2per cent each additional year, plus bonuses.
CFMEU south-western district vice president Bob Timbs said the camp would be manned day and night during the lock-out period.
He said the protest would remain calm, with members allowing contractors in and out of the mine site.
‘‘It’s just about having a presence here to show the company we’re fair dinkum and we are going to dig in and take them on for what we believe is a fair pay deal,’’ Mr Timbs said.
‘‘We’ll have 200 people here spread out around...24 hour periods.’’
A spokeswoman for Peabody Energy directed the Illawarra Mercury to a statement released over the weekend after the company chose to idle the mine due to ongoing industrial action.
‘‘Peabody Energy is trying to operate a productive and sustainable mine, however the disruptive industrial action is having an impact on its ongoing operation,’’ the statement read.
‘‘Accordingly, Peabody has no choice but to idle the mine for the period of the proposed industrial action.’’
The Mercury understands bans and limitations put in place after the CFMEU first rejected Peabody’s pay deal this month meant the Helensburgh colliery was at close to 10per cent of normal production.
Mr Timbs said the union had behaved responsibly in negotiating a new pay deal.
He said union members were weary of bonuses contained within Peabody’s offer because they were ‘‘subject to logical problems’’ and the ‘‘company’s whim’’.
‘‘It’s what we call an at-risk component of our wages and we’re not prepared to offset an hourly wage increase with an at-risk bonus increase,’’ he said.
The union has proposed a 4per cent wage increase on workers’ hourly rate in exchange for a 4per cent sacrifice on production bonuses.
CFMEU Helensburgh Lodge President Andrew Davey said Peabody’s offer was a ‘‘kick in the guts’’ given the high quality of work being undertaken at the mine.
‘‘We do the best we can do and that’s proven in the figures,’’ he said.