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Miners threat of legal action an attack on workers rights

Jan 29, 2013News

In an unprecedented attack on the rights of workers, two mining companies have threatened legal action against the RTBU over the potential Pacific National Coal protected industrial action.

Xstrata Coal NSW, which is not involved in salary negotiations, sent a letter to the union threatening to take legal action if workers strike. Whitehaven Coal has also threatened to make a complaint.

Loco Division Secretary Bob Hayden said the threat is an outrageous attack on the rights of workers.

“Workers deserve fair pay and conditions – we’re certainly not going to accept an agreement that compromises on safety. The mining companies should be going to Pacific National and asking why they haven’t been willing to agree to a last ditch attempt to a negotiated settlement as offered by the RTBU, not threatening workers who are just trying to get a fair go,” Bob Hayden said.

“Workers don’t want to have to take industrial action, but the company has left us with no choice but to go down that path. Any action we take will be protected industrial action that has been approved by Fair Work Australia.

“It’s outrageous that these big mining companies are now also trying to bully us into accepting an inferior agreement.”

RTBU National Secretary Bob Nanva told the Sydney Morning Herald that it was ”unheard of” for a third party not directly involved in an industrial dispute to threaten legal action.

”This is a co-ordinated assault on the right of union members to collectively bargain and strike,” he said. ”This is a forerunner to what will happen if Tony Abbott is elected prime minister. These companies are straining at the leash and desperately want to bring back WorkChoices.”

Read the full SMH article here
Read the full Newcastle Herald article here