CFMEU negotiates withdrawal of lockout at Yancoal’s Ashton underground mine near Singleton

By , 25/04/2020 19:39

After meeting with the manager of Yancoal’s Ashton underground coal mine this morning,CFMEU district president Peter Jordan said the lockout had been withdrawn.
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Yancoal senior management will meetwith union representatives on Monday to continue negotiations in relation to an expired enterprise bargaining agreement at the Upper Hunter mine.

The Singleton Argus reports thatcompany will allow the minersto return to work after the union agreed to withdraw their notice of further industrial action.

However, Mr Jordan saidthe company had guaranteed no action would be taken against workers “who fail to front up” as they were informed at 6.30am on Saturday thatthey were locked out indefinitely of the mine near Singleton.

He said talks were conducted on Friday but the company remained “dogmatic on the issue of removing the right of arbitration and reducing contractors rate of pay”.

“We are just trying to hang on to what we have got,” Mr Jordansaid.

Earlier this week:

CFMEU members employed at Yancoal’s Ashtonunderground set up a picket line at the entrance of the minein conjunction with a24-hour stoppage that began at midnight on Sunday.

PICKET LINE: CFMEU members at Ashton Underground taking a stand against Yancoal on Monday.

This followed two stop-work meetingson Friday, and was in response to issues that have arisen in the process of trying to “roll-over” an expired enterprise bargaining agreement.

District president Peter Jordan told The Singleton Arguson March 5that the union hadgiven notice of their intention to take protected industrial action.

He saidwhile they were seeking a slight pay increase, themain area of contention was related to the right of arbitration.

“The company wants to remove the right of arbitrationand wind it back toconsent only,” he explained.

“They also want to lower the hourly rate paid to contractors which at present is the same as permanent employees, and there are also issues around the redundancy clause.”

He saidthe agreement expiredover two years ago at a time when the industry was in bad shape.

However, now things have picked up all we areasking for is to roll-over the current agreement with a slight pay increase –and without having thesevital conditions taken away.

A spokespersonfrom Yancaol said negotiations have been conducted in good faith for more than two years in an effort to implement a modern and sustainable enterprise agreement.

“The proposed new agreement will see employees retain their current redundancy entitlements and negotiations related to a proposed wage increase are ongoing,” the spokesperson said.

“Proposed changes to the matter of arbitration are in accordance with modern workplace agreements already established at mines across the Hunter Valley.

“The Ashton workplace agreement is out of date, unsustainable and requires improvement to support the future of the operation.”

Chinese miner Yancoalhas been operating the Ashton underground mine since 2009 and after acquiring Rio Tinto’s Hunter Valley assets –Mount Thorley Warkworth (MTW) and Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) –in September 2017,are now a significant player in the local industry.

Last monththe companyannounced that about 78contract crib relief haul truck operators – employed by Programmed –were no longer required at MTWfollowing a restructure of the operation’scurrent excavator rosters.

Thenon March 9,Yancoalconfirmedanother 46 operators working in the same roles at HVOwill also be finishing up.

A spokesperson said Yancoal has removed the crib relief rosters previously established by Rio Tinto at both HVO and Mount Thorley Warkworth (MTW), having found the rosters to be unnecessary to day-to-day operations.

“We understand Programmed Skilled Workforce has already successfully redeployed the majority of MTW contractors affected by the recent change in roster and is similarly looking to redeploy HVO-based contractors where possible,” the spokesperson said.

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