Diversified miner South32 has initiated enterprise bargaining with Appin coal mine employees and their representatives in Australia following their threat to make a partial strike for a week, reported Mining Weekly Online.

The news agency cited a South32 spokesperson as saying that the company was in enterprise bargaining pertaining to a proposed new Appin Enterprise Agreement.

The firm was notified by the Mining and Energy Union (MEU) of the employees’ intentions to take half-shift strikes across all shifts at the coal mine at the Illawarra metallurgical coal operations in New South Wales.

The industrial action was planned from 24 August until 31 August 2022.

MEU South Western District vice-president Bob Timbs said that the Appin miners were using the rights to secure a better deal on pay and conditions, as per the Fair Work Act, in the wake of surging coal prices and increasing cost of living.

South32 offered a 5% salary increase for eligible employees in the first year, 4% in the second year, and 3% in the subsequent two years.

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The firm also made an offer of sign-on payment to increase the total remuneration further. This is payable in year one.

The South32 spokesperson added: “We have taken a positive approach throughout the negotiation process, with the aim of reaching a new agreement that helps our operation to remain safe, reliable and sustainable through the commodity price cycle.”

Timbs said: “Coal miners at Appin and across the industry have worked through many years of downturn and pressure on the coal companies – accepting wage freezes and minimal advancement on pay and conditions.

“Now that coal prices and profits are booming and inflation is rising, workers are seeking to have these changed circumstances reflected in their new Enterprise Agreement.”