Gordonstone mine sold to Rio Tinto
By Bill Mason
BRISBANE — Mining union leaders have warned of further industrial unrest at the Gordonstone coal mine in central Queensland, following the sale of 80% of the mine to the world's largest mining corporation, Rio Tinto.
The mine's former owner, ARCO, has appealed an Australian Industrial Relations Commission ruling that the dismissal of its entire work force in October 1997 was "harsh, unjust and unreasonable".
Union officials said the union is prepared to continue the fight to reinstate the sacked workers for years, if necessary.
If Rio Tinto does not re-hire from the pool of 312 former workers, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has promised fresh legal action in the AIRC.
CFMEU Queensland district president Jim Lambley described the Rio Tinto purchase of Gordonstone as a "setback" because the company was not "union friendly".
"On form, they won't offer the sacked workers their jobs back, but it will depend on what the law of the land says", Lambley said. "We all know about Rio Tinto's attitude to working people — they are just a polite version of ARCO."