||Issue No. 231||30 July 2004|
Interview: Power and the Passion
Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Housing: Home Truths
International: Boycott Busters
Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Review: Chewing the Fat
Poetry: Dear John
The Locker Room
Tom On Alienation
Goons, Scabs in Desert Showdown
The high-stakes stand-off is unfolding at Yandi, about 150km north of Newman in the Pilbara, where miners with BHP contractor Henry Walker Eltin are resisting the imposition of another round of AWAs, backed by big financial inducements.
Less than a fortnight after BHP was ordered by the IRC to pay equal wages and conditions to union members, it appears to be re-fighting the issue through its remote-site contractor.
For the first time in WA, miners overwhelmingly rejected AWAs when Henry Walker Eltin put them on the table, this month. Only 15 percent of the workforce accepted the increased earnings.
A picketline was thrown around the mine and residential camp, last Sunday, after workers learned the company was flying in Global Security guards, many with military training, to lock them down.
Henry Walker Eltin moved AWA workers out of the camp on Sunday afternoon, bunking them down at nearby Hammersley Iron, alongside security guards and management contractors.
However, Hammersley construction workers demanded the removal of "scabs" from their camp and those preparing for the assault on Yandi were eventually turfed out.
The dispute turned nasty on Monday when the company's force used vehicles to try and smash its way through the picket of AWU, AMWU and CEPU members.
"It's Patrick's all over again," ACTU organiser Will Tracey reported from the front line. "We've got un-badged goons here in the standard blue overalls. At least two picketers were hit by a car when they first tried to break through.
"This is a very remote site and we are worried about the safety of our people. We are a long way from anywhere and a long way from anybody."
By Monday, 14 police had been flown to Yandi from Newman, Karatha and Port Hedland stations.
Some of the tensions were relieved when miners returned to work on Thursday where they will continue their industrial campaign through regular stop work meetings.
They are demanding pay equity and the right of new starters to decide whether they are employed on AWAs or a collective agreement. The employer insists it will only employ those who accept non-union individual contracts.
"They have tried the old trick of buying people off and it didn't work," Tracey said. "This whole dispute is about the contractor's refusal to recognise equal pay and freedom of choice. That's all our people are holding out for.
"It is a very important issue for workers everywhere. The people on the job have been fantastic but the company is playing hardball and we need help from the broader union movement."
Miners and supporters will hold a rally outside Henry Walker Eltin's Perth office on Monday morning.
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