For the third time in four weeks, workers at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal have been locked out amid claims their concerns about job security aren’t being taken seriously.
The workers were due to return on Friday morning after an earlier week-long lockout but the PKCT sent a notice late on Thursday that it would be extended until 7am on February 14.
Combined with an early lockout and a week of strike action it means by February 14, it will be a month since the workers were last on shift.
The latest lockout comes after workers rejected the company’s latest attempt to rework a contentious clause in the enterprise agreement that would prohibit PKCT from sacking workers and replacing them with contract labour.
PCKT has denied this is their intent.
A statement from PKCT claimed the new lockout was in response to a second request to place a moratorium on industrial action “out of concern for PKCT’s employees and their families”.
The earlier request prompted the previous lockout, though Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) representative Bob Timbs has denied any such request had been made.
The PKCT statement said it had no other choice than to lock out its own workers.
[PKCT] is contractually obliged to its customers to ensure ships, bound for international markets, are loaded with coal safely and on time,” the statement read.
“PKCT has no other choice but to ask its employees, embroiled in the ongoing industrial disruption, to remain away from work.”
The terminal is owned by a consortium of local coal producers, including South32, Wollongong Coal and Glencore. South32 manage it on the consortium’s behalf.
Mr Timbs said South32 wasn’t “serious” about workers’ concerns about job security.
“All these workers are asking for is a commitment that their permanent jobs will not be cut and replaced by contractors,” Mr Timbs said.
“We are not seeking any limit on using contractors to meet genuine peaks in demand.
“However, casualisation is out of control in our industry and our region. We won’t accept good, local permanent jobs being cut, only for the same work to be carried out by casual contractors.
“The latest offer from South 32 management falls far short of a genuine commitment. They are taking the mickey.”