The company claim that Port Kembla Coal Loader employees won’t be sacked and replaced by contract labour is an “absolute smokescreen”, according to a union official.
The PKCT locked out workers on Saturday morning for seven days in the latest step in negotiations for a new enterprise agreement that have been going on for almost five years.
Workers have set up picket line outside the coal terminal entry and CFMEU district vice president Bob Timbs said they would stay there for the duration of the lockout.
“It’s early days for us, we’re in for the long haul,” Mr Timbs said.
“We’ll stay here and do what we need to do. It’s a question for the company as to whether they’re going to extend the lockout or not.”
Mr Timbs said the main sticking point was PKCT’s wish to remove a clause protecting workers from being sacked and replaced by contract labour.
He pointed to leaked documents showing legal advice sought by PKCT over plans to replace “PKCT employees with South32 ‘regional hub’ employees”.
The advice was that such a move would contravene the very clause PKCT is seeking to remove.
Mr Timbs said this showed PKCT’s intent.
“If they’ve got no intention of replacing the workforce with contractors, great news. Then let us maintain the clause, shake hands and move on,” he said.
Mr Timbs also claimed there was contract labour working in the terminal during the lockout.
A PKCT spokeswoman said the “leaked documents" were out of date.
“This is apparently an old, and since discarded, memo by a former manager in 2016 – long before the 2012 EA was terminated by the Fair Work Commission – who went to a law firm not used by PKCT,” the spokeswoman said.
“It was not seen by the board of PCKT and it certainly was never acted upon and there is no intention or suggestion of it being acted on.”