CFMEU Mining & Energy fights for our members in coal and metals mining and power generation around Australia. Our members work hard, play a crucial role in Australia’s economy, support their communities and have a proud tradition of standing up for safety and workers’ rights.

Hosted by Tim Brunero, this podcast features news, interviews and inside stories keeping you up to the minute with our activities, challenges and successes.


May 2020

Our May episode kicks off with Coronavirus - what else? It’s changed how we all work - from staggered shift starts to cleaning down equipment to ditching carpooling - but some proposed solutions, like 21 days on, 7 days off rosters have been shown the door. At 3.11 Queensland District President Stephen Smyth calls out ‘hot seat changing’ & ‘hot bedding’. At 6.50 FIFO Pilbara locomotive driver Paul Bloxsom opens up about the pain of leaving his family for 3 months. At 9.15 Industry Health & Safety Inspector Stephen Luck talks about the reality of doing night shift and coming home to a house full of self isolating family, At 12.33 National Research Director Peter Colley analyses the falling coal price and stable employment numbers At 14.27 Hunter Valley shotfirer Kerry Konieczny explains how she got decent breastfeeding facilities for working mums at her pit. At 16.44 National President Tony Maher discusses FIFO’s ‘Black Swan’ event.

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June 2020

Our June episode begins with the recent landmark Federal Court judgment that the ‘permanent casual’ work model is unlawful, with Labor’s Tony Burke, casual miner Chad Stokes and National Legal Director Alex Bukarica discussing implications and next steps. At 13.19 Queensland President Steve Smyth gives us the latest on the gas explosion at the Grosvenor Mine. At 19.24 Former Miners Federation General Secretary Barry Swan tells the remarkable story of the 1982 Kemira ‘stay-in’ strike. At 26.40 We get an update on our legal win against BHP’s dodgy Operations Services Enterprise Agreements, with National Legal Officer Eliza Sarlos.

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July 2020

Our July episode begins with South32’s grubby use of the Coronavirus crisis to dial down safety and cut wages at Appin Mine. South Western District Vice President Bob Timbs explains the company’s tactics, and we hear from a couple of Appin miners dudded by the move. At 7.15 Former General Secretary Andrew Vickers reflects on lives lost and lessons learnt from major mining disasters we commemorate in July. At 15.12 CFMMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor reveals how members from all the Union’s divisions have kept the country running - and where they now need backup from government. At 22.50 Matt Hofman from the Appin Lodge in the Southern district ends our July episode with his poem ‘We Are Coal’.

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August 2020

Our August episode begins with BHP’s Operations Services Scam - Bowen Basin Organiser Jason Lipscombe describes how ‘The Big Australian’ puts local workers on second rate agreements using their in house labour hire firm Operations Services. At 6:26 Chris Griffith explains how he owes his, and his wife’s, life to The Westpac Helicopter Rescue Service while the organisation’s CEO Richard Jones thanks Northern District coal miners for 35 years of pouring "millions and millions" into the choppers to keep them in the air. At 20:58 Ahead of the state election on October 31 New Acland miner Michael Hartin tells Queensland politicians to get his vote they'll need to rescue Stage 3 of the mine’s expansion from the courts and at the same time save 150 jobs.

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September 2020

Our big campaign to protect casual coal miners’ recent legal win kicks off our September episode - if you haven’t emailed your local MP yet head to protectcasualminers.com.au

At 3:25

We learn how BHP’s in house labour hire company Operations Services has stopped offering maintenance workers in its Mackay workshop trades apprenticeships, leaving some very disappointed youngsters.

At 7:08

We head to the Pilbara in the North West of WA and follow union organiser Yola Bakker around with a mic to capture a day in her life.

At 12:57

Former coal miner Councillor Mike Brunker tells us why he’s running in the upcoming Queensland election - and what he’ll do for locals if he wins.

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October 2020

Could a new pilot hydrogen plant in Victoria make Australia the Saudi Arabia of Hydrogen Fuel? And at the same time extend the life of coal mines around the county? It’s an exciting prospect - let's find out more from Victorian District President Geoff Dyke and Tony Wood Energy Program Director with The Grattan Institute. At 6.36 BHP’s in house labour hire company Operations Services is dudding miners at the Mt Arthur open cut in the Hunter - Vice President of the Northern District Jeff Drayton explains… At 10.56 A big fan of the podcast and new organiser in Central Queensland Nic Dickson tells us how he makes sure his retired coal miner dad makes sure he hears our podcast and we call for feedback on what people like about the podcast and what we can improve - do that here: [email protected]

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BHP OS agreements knocked off: What’s next?

BHP’s dodgy Operations Services agreements have been binned by the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission. But now the hard work begins of working together to achieve a better deal for OS workers. Keep up to date with issues affecting OS workers at thinkfairbhp.com.au

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How was the ‘Battle of Boggabri’ won?

It's been 1 year since Christmas came early for members at Boggabri Coal. In the winter of 2019 they’d had enough of the mine owner’s attempts to drive down wages & conditions. So they began 4 months of stoppages and won 12% over 4 years, a $4000 sign on bonus and set new standards for working conditions in the Gunnedah Basin. But what are the lessons other members can learn from their victory?

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How can union activists get the best possible outcome in the workplace?

We are going to end the year on the podcast with some inspiration from union legend, Tom McDonald on how to win a blue.

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How are Enterprise Agreements made?

How do good EAs get made? And what about bad ones? Find out how labour hire companies use dodgy EAs to remove members’ right to strike and deny them permanent jobs & proper pay.

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Russell Coight To The Rescue

Nic’s 200 tonne truck burst into flame underneath him one winter’s day back in 2018, and he was lucky to escape with just a few burns. He relives the story and we work out what we can learn from the incident and the subsequent rescue. Do you have a story of a close call like Nic’s? We’d love to hear it - email us at [email protected]

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Women Workplace Leaders

Mining and energy industries have traditionally been among the most male-dominated in Australia. But women’s numbers have been growing in our workplaces and importantly, in the Union. There are now more women workplace leaders than ever in the Mining and Energy Union. This episode we meet some of the women delegates to the National Convention at the NSW hub in Cessnock to find out what makes them tick.

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Sailor, Brownie, Captain, Red: Remembering our pit ponies

The WA Coal Mining Industry is centred on the town of Collie in the South West of the state - the local mines and power stations have been keeping the lights on in WA for generations. Collie Coal Mining has an incredible history - and they’ve been celebrating that history recently. They’ve got a underground coal mine replica, virtual reality shovel diggers so aspiring miners can put on a headset and try their skills, and they have just unveiled a bronze life size replica of a pit pony - a sight not seen for over 50 years. We go on a journey into the past to discover the stories of the pit ponies, through two local legends, Alf Sanford and Laurie Old.

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The woman who beat a mining giant with a bottle of water

In 1963 one woman took down a massive mining company armed only with a bottle of water. This is her story.

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Can a coal miner win the Upper Hunter by-election?

Northern Mining and NSW Energy Vice President Jeff Drayton has thrown his hat in the ring for the crucial 22 May Upper Hunter by-election in NSW. He explains why he’s running and the first thing he’ll do if he’s elected.

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How to recruit union members

What do union delegates do when a member comes to them with a problem? And how do they approach prospective members regarding joining up? We find out.

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Decades of struggle behind Queensland’s biggest coal Agreement - Part 1 of 2

The BHP Central Agreement is the biggest and most comprehensive agreement in the Queensland coalfields. As negotiations get underway for the next deal, we look at back at the 40+ year history of blues, wins and epic struggles that have shaped conditions at work and in coal communities.

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Decades of struggle behind Queensland’s biggest coal Agreement Part 2 of 2

The BHP Central Agreement is the biggest and most comprehensive agreement in the Queensland coalfields. As negotiations get underway for the next deal, we look back at the 40+ year history of blues, wins and epic struggles that have shaped conditions at work and in coal communities.

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The Centenary of Queensland’s Worst Mining Disaster - Mt Mulligan

On this day in 1921 75 miners at Mt Mulligan in Far North Queensland never returned home from work. The town lost three quarters of its men that day. On this episode you’ll meet some of the men involved.

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Pilbara Train Drivers Get Organised

Iron ore train drivers in the Pilbara are exhausted. They’ve borne the brunt of a sector booming in the middle of a pandemic - leaving some stuck over east chewing up leave and some doing double the work in 45 degrees in the west.

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Grosvenor Lodge Rises From Ashes

The horrific burns suffered by five members in Anglo American’s Grosvenor mine in May last year were avoidable. The company had been warned many times about safety issues. Now members have taken matters into their own hands and formed the first ever labour hire only lodge to ensure it never happens again.

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Why have Alabama coal miners been on strike since April?

Working 6 days a week, 12 hours a day might seem crazy but for 1,100 Alabama coal miners it’s their reality. They’ve been on strike since April Fool’s Day - but this is no joke - the faceless private equity firms which operate their mines have zero conscience and are more interested in recruiting strike breakers than talking to their workforce.

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