Up to a thousand EPMU Solid Energy miners are entering their third week of industrial action as the stand-off over negotiations over multi-employer collective agreement.
These agreements have expired some months ago and the miners have clearly had enough.
The four mines involved in the dispute are Huntly's Rotowaro and Huntly East mines, Stockton mine near Westport, and the Spring Creek mine near Greymouth.
The dispute started when Huntly's 120 Rotowaro open-cast mine workers were locked out as contract negotiations failed with their employer, Australia's HWE Mining, which operates the mine for Solid Energy.
The dispute quickly became nationwide as solidarity action by miners spread through-out the entire coalfield with a 100 strikers joining at Huntley East underground mine, 500 strikers at the Stockton mine near Westport and the rest from the Spring Creek mine near Greymouth
The dispute heated up this week when the company attempted to blame the situation on the union, publishing divisive advertisements in West Coast newspapers.
EPMU assistant national secretary Ged O'Connell says the company's attempts to blame the union are absurd.
"We're a democratic union and the action members are taking is what they have collectively agreed to take. The company needs to realise this strike action is the result of their behaviour towards their workers and all of their workers will stand up together to fight it."
Interestingly enough Don Elder, CEO of Solid Energy, earned a reportedly obscene $1.27 million last year. No doubt when Don Elder goes on about increased productivity and profits he probably means intensifying the 'sweated labour' of miners.
This dispute exposes the market orientated approach to State Owned Enterprises (SOE), who see nothing wrong in allowing contractors to run the country's mines, in an attempt to maximise profits for the governemt and giving fat pay cheques to the management.
Socialist Appeal says:
Support striking miners
Support EPMU to renegiotiate multi-employer collective agreements
Kick the contractors out!
For workers control and management of Solid Energy