Hey Idemitsu, why pay Boggabri workers less?


Mineworkers at Boggabri Coal Mine in northern NSW are stepping up their industrial campaign for pay and conditions in line with industry standards.

In a proposed new Enterprise Agreement, the mine’s Japanese-owned operator Idemitsu is offering workers $40,000 less than it pays its workers at Muswellbrook Coal Mine in the Hunter Valley.

Northern Mining and NSW Energy District President Peter Jordan said workers would keep fighting for better pay and a fairer bonus structure as well as conditions like access to arbitration, in line with those at Muswellbrook and Idemitsu’s Ensham mine in Queensland.

“We would have thought based on those conditions being agreed upon at the other two operations, those matters would be resolved straight away,” he said.

“Idemitsu’s workers are already afforded the same conditions at its other mines, so what we’re proposing are not unreasonable expectations.

“Boggabri coal mineworkers produce valuable, high quality export coal, but their pay and conditions don’t reflect industry standards and they deserve better.

In good news, Idemitsu has said it will back down on moving to a 7/7 roster which would promote the use of fly-in fly-out rather than locally-based workers, with any new roster having to be agreed by a majority of the workforce – though workers will believe it when they see it.

Hundreds of CFMEU members at Boggabri kicked off an industrial campaign three weeks ago with a series of six-hour stoppages and have held regular stoppages since. Sticking points include:

  • Pay rates that are lower than permanent rates in Hunter Valley coal mines, with unfair bonus structures.
  • No provisions to support skills training for workers.
  • No access to arbitration by the Fair Work Commission for dispute resolution by an independent umpire.

If there’s no progress in negotiations, workers’ next move will be a 48-hour stoppage.


Back to issue: September 2019