Striking coal miners edge NSW closer to power shortage chaos
Summary: UNION thugs are threatening to plunge the east coast into a power crisis and leave families struggling to turn their lights on after ramping up strikes across coal mines in Queensland and NSW.....
And the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) along with their comrades in the Maritime Union of Australia are demanding a ludicrous deal that would force Glencore, the operator of the eight mines, to guarantee it won’t fire any of its 1400 staff.
The union strikes — which are worst at Oaky North in Queensland — have spread south, starting in May, and could strangle coal supplies within months.
Workers have been on strike at Oaky North since April and have been locked out of the mine since July 20. AGL, operator of the Liddell power plant in the Hunter Valley and the larger Bayswater station nearby, is so alarmed it raised the issue directly with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The Daily Telegraph has obtained a briefing note handed to the PM’s Office and to Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg on September 6 which says the strikes have “the potential to provide significant interruption to coal suppliers”. AGL has also requested “support from the federal government as it appears that negotiations have stalled and may subsequently impede coal delivery”.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said: “Australia’s two most militant unions are putting our power generation at risk.”
AGL also remains under the spotlight over its refusal to extend the life of the Liddell power station, with fears its closure will lead to rolling blackouts across the state.
Liberal MP Craig Kelly yesterday urged the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to launch legal action if the energy giant refused to sell or keep the plant open in a bid to limit electricity supply and also drive up electricity prices: “They need to be very careful what they are doing.”
Glencore has referred the CFMEU to Queensland Police over its conduct at Oaky North, with security footage from July 3 showing crude sexual gestures and offensive conduct toward workers attempting to enter the mine. The ongoing strikes are led by CFMEU Queensland president Stephen Smyth.
Some Glencore staff also allege the striking workers have made crude gestures indicating throat slitting as contractors try to enter. It’s understood similar agreements to those proposed by Glencore have already been signed at other mine sites.
The union claims Glencore is trying to cut out hard-won concessions and is monitoring its members living in the company town of Tieri. “If someone gives you the finger from inside a car going to where they will be doing your job, do you think a coal miner with 20 years’ experience is going to sit there and wave back to them,” Queensland CFMEU vice-president Chris Brodsky said.