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Helensburgh mine workers strike over pay

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More than 200 hundred workers from Peabody’s Helensburgh's Metropolitan Colliery have gone on strike for 48 hours after negotiations around new enterprise agreements stalled.

CFMEU south-western district vice-president Bob Timbs said the strike followed three days of bans and limitations of labour by employees after negotiations with Peabody managers broke down.

"We've been in negotiations for a replacement enterprise agreement for the last six months, but we've come to an impasse," Timbs said.

One Monday the union put bans on the amount of production, while on Tuesday the ban extended to the use of diesel operated vehicles.

The strike started on Wednesday morning and is expected to run for 48 hours, The Illawarra Mercury reported.

Timbs said the union had approved a skeleton crew on site due to safety concerns.

"Unfortunately, the longwall is in some geologically unsound conditions. So, after a discussion with management [yesterday], we will supply a skeleton crew to operate the longwall to maintain stability and safety within the mine," he said.

The CFMEU claims the new agreement would freeze employees pay increases, putting their wages behind those at other operations in the region by more than 20 per cent.

"First, they offered zero per cent increase in pay over three years, then they made a counter-offer with minimal increases over years two and three," he said.

A previous statement by a spokesman for the colliery said the company  had been trying to negotiate a "fair and sustainable outcome for all employees and the company".

"Peabody is committed to working with our employees and the union to deliver an agreement which mirrors current market conditions, enables the company to manage current industry challenges and provides job security for all employees," the spokesman said.

Peabody cut 42 jobs from the mine earlier this year as part of plans to slash 400 positions from its operations across NSW and QLD.

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