Workers at the Oaky North mine in Australia have been locked out of their workplace by mining giant Glencore, which has taken steps to replace the permanent workforce with casual contractors.
As workers ended their legally protected industrial action following a 99 per cent No vote on Glencore’s proposed workplace agreement, they attempted to return to work only to be met by company guards at the gate and refused entry to their own workplace.
Chris Brodsky, District Vice President of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate CFMEU, say workers are being punished and intimidated in their community for taking a stand:
“We’ve had workers and their families followed by security guards in their home town Tieri and other intimidating behaviour. Our guys don’t scare easily, but they are concerned for their families.
“At the end of the day, we’re a tiny little mining town in the middle of nowhere and Glencore is a huge international corporation. The odds are stacked against us but we’ll fight the good fight all the way. The 99 per cent No vote shows how united this community is.”
The proposed agreement would remove workers’ basic rights:
- Access to workplace representation in some cases
- Allowing the company to unilaterally change rosters against the wishes of employees
- Increase the cost of company’s accommodation for workers
- Limiting the ability of employees to have some matters determined by arbitration
The union has offered a two-year roll over of the existing agreement with a zero per cent pay increase.
Chris Brodsky continues:
“We believe Glencore’s end game is to replace the permanent workforce with casual contractors ahead of their plans to shut the mine as a strategy for minimising their financial responsibilities to workers.”
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary, says:
“It is shameful and unacceptable of Glencore to replace the permanent workforce with contract workers, and we cannot accept it. Glencore uses fancy language publicly, but what is going on at the Oaky North mine shows the complete opposite. We will continue to fully support our affiliate CFMEU in this fight.”