4079718330_c614a9abd5From epmu.org.nz: Workers at Solid Energy’s Spring Creek mine joined workers at the SOE’s other three big mines in strike action and picketing on Thursday, bringing the total number of workers locked out or on strike to nearly one thousand.

The nationwide solidarity action comes after Solid Energy contractor HWE Mining, which operates the Rotowaro mine, indefinitely suspended workers last Tuesday for taking low-level industrial action.

EPMU assistant national secretary Ged O’Connell says the action is aimed at supporting the suspended miners at Rotowaro and addressing concerns about Solid Energy’s contracting model.

“This action was sparked by the heavy-handed suspension of our members in Rotowaro by one of Solid Energy’s contractors but there are other concerns at mines across the country, in particular the company’s use of contractors to undermine terms and conditions in the industry.

“Solid Energy has tried to wash its hands of any responsibility for the conditions at its opencast mines by making back room arrangements with its contractors.

“Rather than cutting deals with its contractors and then leaving them to tell our members there’s no money available, Solid Energy needs to front up to the table and negotiate in good faith.

“All we want to do is sit down with Solid Energy and its contractors and negotiate a fair industry agreement without any game-playing.”

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.

All mines are covered by the same multi-employer collective agreement and are fully unionised, which means all of Solid Energy’s production has effectively stopped as of today. Pickets are taking place at all four mines.