|Issue No 52||05 May 2000|
Call for ACCC Prosecutions Over Japan Coal
By Paddy Gorman
As Australia loses billions in coal export earnings, miners have called on the Howard Government's competition watchdog to launch prosecutions over Japanese coal price fixing.
In the last decade alone, Australia has lost billions of dollars in earnings as a result of collusion by Japanese buyers to fix coal prices.
While greedy Australian exporters have cut each other's throats and undermined the national interest in a grab for market share, our Union has consistently pointed out that strategic investment in Australian coal operations by the Japanese buyers has provided them with the vital information they require to drive down prices.
Our Union has possession of documents from Japan that prove our claims of collusion are correct.
We have passed them on to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
(ACCC). The ACCC is never hesitant when it comes to threatening the MUA or other unions with prosecution for alleged breaches of the competition and consumer regulations. It is not so gung-ho when a Union demands action.
Even though the ACCC agrees that there is a case for prosecution, it has declined to pursue one because of a lack of support from spineless coal producers. The ACCC also claims that the cost of such a prosecution might outweigh the public benefit and it is concerned about the potential for Japanese trade reprisals.
CFMEU General President Tony Maher has made it clear that this is a cop out and the Union is considering legal action to force the ACCC to act. "Coal is an asset owned by the people of Australia, a fact enshrined in law. We are entitled to a fair return on our coal. If the coal producers haven't the guts to take on Japanese collusive practices, then the ACCC has a public responsibility and duty to do so", he said.
Coalowners Bury Huge Productivity Increases
In the latest industry survey released by the NSW Minerals Council, another massive 18.4 per cent increase in coal mineworkers productivity has been buried in the back of the report.
In all previous years, the labour productivity data was featured near the front. However, the coal employers realise that successive massive productivity increases undermine their claims for further cost cutting so they have attempted to hide it in the back of the report in the hope that no attention is drawn to it.
While output per employee increased by 18.4 per cent for the year 1998-99, the coal employers survey revealed that wages only went up by 1.2 per cent.
Interview: War Stories from the Shakey Isles
After being flat-earthed, New Zealand unions are making a comeback under a new progressive government. Darien Fenton is at the forefront of the resurgence.
Unions: Laying It On the Line
A complex international legal web underpins a long-running South Coast picket.
International: Alive and Kicking
Those representing right wing political forces and strategists for multi-national corporations would be disappointed by the success of the recently concluded Congress of the WFTU in Delhi.
Economics: Fair Trade not Free Trade
The successful MAI and Seattle campaigns have sparked a new debate about the role of the World Trade Organization.
History: The Manchester Movement
Manchester, in Asa Briggs memorable phrase, was the shock city of the early nineteenth century, a small and obscure market town that in a matter of a few years had become a huge city.
Satire: Passing the Buck
Government report tells bosses how to lie and pass the buck: Reith blames Kemp
Review: A Book to Set the Left Right
The Australian Finacial Review's Stephen Long gives his verdict on 'Tales from the new Shop Floor'.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005