Mine workers ready to strike

HUNDREDS of workers at the New Acland mine are readying themselves for protracted strike action with management at New Hope Coal attempting to keep the WorkChoices era at their mine site.

After 10 months of negotiations for a collective agreement, New Hope Coal has offered employees a real wage cut at time of unprecedented expansion and investment in the coal industry in Queensland.

"This is a real slap in the face for employees and their families and comes after company representatives openly acknowledged that New Hope employees at their mine sites and coal port operations are some of the lowest paid miners in Queensland," vice president of the Mining and Energy Union Shane Brunker said.

"New Acland is a prime example of the effect WorkChoices is still having on the income and conditions of employment of working families, many employees are stuck on five-year AWAs and have substandard conditions to the rest of the coal industry.

"The New Acland miners are still trying to dig their way out of condition cutting five-year individual contracts." 

Mr Brunker said the company had been deliberately stalling negotiations for the last eight months, further reducing employees pay in that time.

"In the middle of a mining industry skills shortage, New Hope coal thinks it's a good business practice to implement a real wage cut in the form of a miserly two per cent pay rise, when CPI is running at 3.6%," he said.

"Profits are up substantially, but New Hope is digging deeper and deeper into the pockets of their workers, in a bid to squeeze every last dollar from them.

"It's an appalling way to do business and an appalling way to treat workers and their families."

The Electoral Commission is currently running a protected action ballot which will be completed by the end of the Month under Fair Work Australia provisions.

"The company has managed to agitate their loyal employees so much they are now ready for strike action for the first time in their history." Mr Brunker said.

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