Curragh miners strike
By Bill Mason
BRISBANE — Production at Blackwater's Curragh coal mine in central Queensland stopped on May 9 when 300 workers voted unanimously to strike for two weeks.
Workers at the Arco-owned operation set up picket lines outside the mine gates and prepared for a fortnight without pay. Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national secretary John Maitland said that standing up to the company's "unreasonable" demands over a certified agreement was important for the morale of workers in the industry.
Unions had earlier predicted that mines owned by RTZ-CRA, MIM, Arco or Shell would be the sites most likely to be hit first by industrial disputes since they were the ones "picking up the cudgels" for the Liberals under the draconian new industrial relations laws.
Unions involved in the Curragh dispute had complied with the new act in taking industrial action, Maitland said. "A lot of companies are watching this dispute very closely, and we're hoping it will send a very clear message to them", he said.
The US-owned Arco company plans to sell all its Australian coal interests and is currently restructuring, reducing jobs at the mine from 410 to about 200 within a few months.
The unions say the company is no longer negotiating in good faith and refuses to budge on the issues workers will not accept — unrestricted use of contractors and 12-hour shifts.
The strike has been endorsed by the ACTU (Queensland), which has asked affiliated unions to observe the strike and the picket line.