Tahmoor workers force Xstrata to budge on agreement

After 23 months of struggle, Tahmoor mineworkers have achieved a new enterprise agreement with their employer, Xstrata.

On September 24, 142 voted for the company’s latest offer and 50 voted against. Until then, attempts by the workers to negotiate were thwarted repeatedly because Xstrata refused to budge, even during mediated talks. Workers have been locked out twice and have taken industrial action on several occasions.

Bob Timbs, vice-president of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) lodge in Tahmoor, wrote on Xstratafacts.com on September 29: “The problem with negotiation is that you never end up completely happy with the outcome, but one thing is for certain: this deal is far better than the one which was offered last Christmas.

“Among the new concessions are improvements to security of employment, crew manning levels, shift and gate seniority, leave allowance and accident pay. A wage increase was also drafted in. None of this would have been possible if the workers hadn’t remained united.”

Timbs told the September 27 Illawarra Mercury: “The 50 that didn’t want it are fairly resentful at what Xstrata has put the workforce through over the last couple of years.”

He continued on Xstratafacts.com: “Xstrata was determined to wage an ideological battle over workers’ rights in Tahmoor, with the company losing significant revenue due to industrial action in the lead-up to this agreement.

“But Tahmoor workers remained steadfast in unity in their fight for fair conditions ... In the end, it was about making sure that Australian workers were not exploited by a multinational giant, which is already profiting handsomely from our area’s resources.”