|Issue No 8||09 April 1999|
Gordonstone Miners Come to Town
By Phil Davey
- CFMEU (Construction) NSW Industrial Officer
A packed public meeting last week heard direct from sacked miners about shocking injustices being perpetrated against working people in the isolated Queensland town of Emerald.
The meeting had been called to try to raise the profile of the 17-month Gordonstone mine dispute as it enters a crucial stage, with a pivotal Federal Court ruling due this week.
The dispute originates from the mass sacking of over 300 miners for refusing to sign individual work contracts.
The importance of Gordonstone was stressed by CFMEU official Tony Maher on the night, who claimed Gordonstone was almost identical to last years Patrick's dispute and would be receiving the same attention and support but for the tyranny of distance.
It was standing room only as members of the public, uni students and officials from a variety of unions listened to CFMEU official Jim Lambley and miner Dave Weller tell a frightening story of thuggery and intimidation by former Gordonstone owners ARCO, who recently sold the mine under suspicious circumstances to the equally obnoxious Rio Tinto.
Footage was shown of surveillance of union members by thugs hired by ARCO.
Miner Dave Weller told his own story to the meeting. He had been recruited to the mine with the promise of "25 years work". He spoke of his pride at being part of a team that broke every mining production record in the world in 1995/6.
He spoke of his anger when he found equipment hired for the picket line burnt to the ground when it was left unattended for one night.
Weller said he had "no doubt" there had been collusion between ARCO/Rio, the former National Party State Government and the police, given the political way police had been used in the dispute. Weller quipped that the area surrounding Gordonstone would have to be the safest in Australia, given the police numbers there.
280 people have been arrested on the picket line in the last month.
Dave Weller and other Gordonstone miners will have a busy week in Sydney this week, touring construction sites to talk to workers and anxiously awaiting the Federal Courts ruling on the dispute.
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Unions: The Waterfront One Year On
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History: Walsh Bay Wharves : Space and Place
For historians looking at a historic structure or site like the Walsh Bay wharves, there is a big difference between 'space' and 'place'.
International: Compo Search for UK Coal Miners
An international search is on for former coal miners who worked mines in England and Wales from 1954 and have since suffered from chest disease.
Review: War on the Wharves
Some of the most honest reporting of the waterfront dispute came from the pens of the nation's cartoonists.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005