15 September, 2016A strike at the Anglo American’s coal mine in Queensland, Australia has entered its fourth week, as the company refuses to negotiate in good faith with workers. The situation has escalated as the mining giant attempts to bring in strike-breakers to undermine the workforce even though the strike is legal.
The industrial action at the German Creek mine began on 22 August after numerous bargaining attempts failed following the expiration of the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement in April 2014.
IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), says that Anglo objected to basic demands like health and safety regulations and job security for workers.
The situation has worsened now that Anglo has engaged a labour hire company to advertise for excavator operators to replace the striking workforce. The strike-breakers are being offered a better deal than those offered to existing employees.
“If Anglo have the money to pay inflated wages to strike-breakers, then they should come back to the table and negotiate in good faith to support their existing employees instead of sneaking around behind closed doors and using a labour hire company to employ a shadow workforce,” said Stephen Smyth, president of the CFMEU Mining and Energy division in Queensland.
A similar situation has developed at Los Bronces copper mine in Chile, where around 1,700 unionized workers are on strike after 45 days of negotiations aimed at improving the conditions of mineworkers broke down. Unions accuse Anglo American of being inflexible and unwilling to extend the negotiations to find an agreement.
In both cases, Anglo American cites the commodities crises as an excuse for not meeting the demands of mineworkers.
At an IndustriALL Anglo American global network meeting in Latin America, participants stood strong in solidarity with the striking workers in Australia and at Les Bronces in Chile.
In a protest letter to Anglo American, IndustriALL’s general secretary, Jyrki Raina, said:
“We urge Anglo American to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to normalize industrial relations and bring the strikes to an end, and to resume collective bargaining negotiations in good faith. We stand by the reasonable demands of the mineworkers and urge Anglo to find accommodation for their demands.”