Tensions are escalating at Peabody Energy’s Helensburgh Metropolitan Colliery after employees were locked out for a second time this month in response to ongoing industrial action.
Workers were informed on Friday they would be locked out for a seven-day period, beginning Saturday at 7am.
A Peabody spokeswoman said work at the mine would recommence before Saturday, October 26 if the union-sanctioned bans and limitations were lifted.
‘‘Should the industrial action be withdrawn, we will reinstate normal duties and normal production will resume,’’ she said.
But Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union south-western district vice president Bob Timbs said this was unlikely to happen.
‘‘At all times throughout negotiations, the CFMEU has compromised to try and come up with a fair and equitable deal for both sides,’’ he said.
The union has been at loggerheads with the company since members rejected a new pay deal earlier this month.
On Friday, Peabody offered a three-year deal that would have provided workers with no pay increase this year, and 2per cent increases in each consecutive year, plus bonus components.
Throughout the negotiations, the company has maintained its offers have reflected current market conditions, while aiming to lift productivity, reduce costs, enhance safety and ‘‘provide greater job security for Metropolitan mine employees’’.
‘‘Peabody Energy has been bargaining in good faith throughout the negotiation period, and has put forward numerous offers that are fair and reasonable,’’ the spokeswoman said.
‘‘Peabody’s workforce has been unable to vote on these offers as they have been rejected up front by the CFMEU, and protected industrial action taken.’’
The spokeswoman said the recent decision by Helensburgh mine client Illawarra Coke Company to shut its Corrimal Cokeworks would put further pressure on operations.
Mr Timbs said the union had been prepared to accept a 12-month agreement to give the company a chance to re-evaluate market conditions sooner.
He said Peabody’s latest offer was ‘‘opportunistic’’ and said coal prices were not foreshadowed to stay at their current low level during the next three years.
‘‘They’re trying to capitalise on the fact there has been a downturn on coking coal prices,’’ he said.
‘‘They’ve offered a substantially reduced pay deal than what other miners within our area are receiving.’’
Mr Timbs said the about 200 workers involved in the dispute had unanimously rejected Peabody’s offer.
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