Miners to protest pay gap at public demonstration

Miners from Appin Colliery will take to the streets on Thursday, to protest the ongoing wage gap between permanent and contract workers at the South32 mine. 

Mineworkers will be joined by their friends and family as well as state politicians at a demonstration in the Appin township, which has been prompted by workers’ frustration over inequality in wages.

Last week, workers met held a feisty four-hour meeting to voice their concerns over a new two-year $50 million agreement that South32 has signed with Mastermyne to supply contract miners at Appin.

CFMEU district vice-president Bob Timbs said the new agreement signalled further cuts for contract workers, who had already had their wages cut by 40 per cent over the past two years. 

“These are local workers, with families, who have taken the brunt of the sector downturn,” he said.

“There’s a sense that South32 and Mastermyne wouldn’t listen – we just haven’t got anywhere when we’ve been calling for parity between the employees.”

“I think these companies need to realise that the workforce and the community has had enough of the treatment of labour hire mineworkers.”

He said there were some workers who had been on contracts for years and were unable to take a holiday without annual leave, sick leave or other entitlements.

“Contract workers are already disadvantaged: they have no job security, no certainty into the future and no loyalty from their employers,” Mr Timbs said. “There is no way a contract worker can plan for their future or stand up for their rights and conditions at work, for fear of losing their jobs.” 

Mr Timbs said the protest march was planned for Appin town centre and was expected to attract strong support from friends, family and workmates of the contract workers, as well as CFMEU members from a number of mines in the South West district.

“These guys work together, and when it all boils down to it coal miners are coal miners – contract or permanent – and they have a proud tradition on sticking up for each other,” he said.

A South32 spokeswoman last week told the Mercury it was not involved in discussions between contractors and their employees. However, Mr Timbs said the union believed they had a responsibility to “come to the table”.

“South 32 cannot continue to pretend workers’ conditions have nothing to do with them – they have everything to do with them,” he said.

“Mining giants have a social responsibility to the communities they operate in – a social responsibility to the workers, their families and their communities, and it’s time they own up and negotiate a fair deal.”

CFMEU district vice president Bob Timbs (centre) with Helensburgh colliery lodge president Andrew Davie and Appin colliery miner Brett Reeves at a meeting last week. Picture: Adam McLean

CFMEU district vice president Bob Timbs (centre) with Helensburgh colliery lodge president Andrew Davie and Appin colliery miner Brett Reeves at a meeting last week. Picture: Adam McLean

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