A coal truck at New Hope Group's Acland coal mine. 

Photo Jim Campbell / Chinchilla News
A coal truck at New Hope Group's Acland coal mine. Photo Jim Campbell / Chinchilla News Jim Campbell

CFMEU to launch legal action over New Acland pay dispute

THE Construction, Forestry, Mining and Engineering Union is set to launch legal action against New Hope, the company that manages the New Acland Coal Mine near Oakey, this week over a pay dispute.

CFMEU Southwest Queensland district vice president Shane Brunker said the dispute stemmed from the union and New Hope being unable to reach a deal on pay and conditions, despite weeks of talks.

The legal action is set to be lodged by the CFMEU's lawyers with the Fair Work Commission later this week.

"The biggest issue at Acland is they've still got work contracts hung over from the John Howard era," Mr Brunker said.

"So 50 per cent are on an enterprise agreement and 50 per cent are on a common law contact.

"You've got employees working side by side, one on the EA, one on contract, doing the same work, but getting paid differently.

"We've got examples of someone who has more skills and has been there longer, but they are receiving less money than someone who just turned up with basic truck skills."

Mr Brunker said he would like to see those on the enterprise agreement paid the same as those on the common law contract for the same work.

"There are other issues (with the agreement)," he said. "There is a very unfair disputes procedure in the agreement.

"The company can refuse to go to (the Fair Work Commission) and refuse to abide by the umpires decision. It goes against what Fair Work is about."

He said there were also concerns about redundancy packages, considering uncertainty around the mine's future.

The Stage Three expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine is currently before the courts in what has become a lengthy legal battle.

Mr Brunker said strike action was a last resort.

New Hope was contacted for comment.