Oct 26, 2016

‘Scabby’ sideshow in Capcoal strike battle

About 250-300 mine workers and their families were joined by a 4m-tall inflatable “Scabby the Rat” and his pal “Grubby” at a rally in Middlemount on Monday to protest Anglo American’s treatment of workers at central Queensland’s Capcoal open-cut operations.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Division Queensland District President Stephen Smyth said Scabby symbolised the stark reality that workers who were vocal about their rights were being picked off and replaced with insecure, labour hire positions.

“Anglo continues to stoop to new lows attempting to pressure workers to give in by using a range of intimidation tactics,” he said.

“They’ve threatened the jobs of 83 workers undertaking legal and protected industrial action. Their attack on these workers are a clear sign of corporate greed and insult every member of this community.

“It’s disgraceful these workers can be made forcibly redundant when we know the company is still employing labour hire workers. It’s no wonder Scabby has come down to take advantage of the situation.”

About 140 Capcoal German Creek miners have been striking over Enterprise Bargaining Agreement negotiations since August 19 and the union says Anglo is proposing to make scores of workers forcibly redundant under the disguise of ‘an unplanned delay’.

The company said the issue of redundancies was being discussed with the workforce again today (October 26).

The mine is still operating using the workforce who are either not affected by the EBA negotiatons or have chosen not to participate in the strike.

In a statement last month Anglo American said it was consulting with the workforce and union representatives at its Capcoal open-cut mine on a proposal to address a challenging commercial environment and unplanned delays to production.

Despite the recent increase in coal prices the proposal to permanently park a full pre-strip circuit was considered to be the best option to ensure the long-term viability of the mine, it said.

“If the proposal proceeds following the consultation with the workforce and unions, Anglo America is proposing to conduct a forced redundancy process which will result in a headcount reduction of 90 roles across the site.”

Mr Smyth said Anglo had drawn out the bargaining process at the German Creek mine for almost three years and that chief executive officer Mark Cutifani had refused to rule out employing armed security guards to intimidate workers undertaking protected industrial action.

This week’s action at Middlemount Bowls Club follows a protest by workers and supporters in front of Anglo American headquarters in Brisbane last Tuesday.