Hunter Valley tradesmen at Hitachi knock back company's substandard agreement, says CFMEU Mining and Energy

HUNTER Valley tradesmen at Hitachi have voted down a substandard agreement proposed by the company as they stand firm in their fight to be recognised as mineworkers.

Hitachi put forward an agreement that did not meet workers’ claims for industry standard conditions including long service leave, accident pay and annual leave.

During a rally at Muswellbrook in August, CFMEU NSW Mining and Northern Energy District president Peter Jordan said more than 50 tradesmen were seeking to secure enterprise agreement conditions in line with the miners they toil alongside.

“The issues mainly centre on those workers not being treated truly, in every respect, as coalminers,” he said.

“However, despite what Hitachi thinks, they are, in every respect, coalminers.

“They work on all the major open cut mines in the Hunter Valley, they work the same rosters and they work side-by-side with the miners.

“But, they’re paid differently.

“Unfortunately, they are under an enterprise agreement (EA) that is under-scored by the Manufacturing and Metals Award. 

“That’s not the appropriate award for their underpinning of the EA.”

Hitachi tradesmen spend at least 90 per cent of their days working in coal mines, with some permanently rostered at mine sites for the full 12-hour shift – yet their conditions are not in line with the Black Coal Award.  

On Friday, CFMEU NSW Mining and Northern Energy District vice-president Jeff Drayton said the company had put forward an agreement that did not meet workers' expectations.

“Our members are not prepared to back down in their fight for industry-standard conditions,” he explained.

“The coal mining industry is profitable but dangerous and workers in the industry deserve conditions that reflect that reality. 

“This is the principle our members at Hitachi are fighting for.”

Workers have been taking on-going industrial action for more than four months, receiving strong support from the community and Hunter Valley mineworkers.