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Issues at Oaky Creek Coal Pty. Ltd.

Discuss about the Human Resource Management and Employment Relation of Oaky Creek Coal PTY. LTD.

There has been a dispute in the Oaky Creek Coal PTY. LTD. for many years. The miners do not really like the decision that has been taken by the Glencore. They claim that earlier they had a very strong union and they are really at their freedom however now they no longer have the freedom of working in their office with the same freedom that they used to enjoy earlier. The main say of the miners working at the Cole mines at the Oaky Creek is that they had a very strong union and they knew that the union was very powerful and would help them throughout but with the intervention of the Glencore, the situation has suffered a huge change and the change is not like by the workers of Oaky Creek. The coal miners are not very happy with the compensation that they receive or the kinds of roasters that have been set up. With the union, they had their say and hey could enjoy a flexible work-life balance. However, now it has become very difficult for them. As per their opinion, Glencore will never give them any permanent workforce. Glencore is also making the workers work for overnight shifts without giving them sufficient amount of compensation for the same. The working hours of the mine are about 24 hours a day that is equivalent to 7 days a week (Salminen, 2016). They had a deal with the Glencore but as per their opinions, Glencore did not listen to their request for granting them a new enterprise agreement. All the workers of the CFMEU are work under the Glencore group of companies. All these employees were covered under the Oaky Creek North Mine Enterprise Agreement 2012. However, after the expiry of this agreement, the miners demanded a new agreement but they are being rejected constantly.  The Glencore wanted to make the workers all day and night even after their shifts were over (Glencore.com 2018). For Glencore, it is only about profit maximization. They want to somehow maximize their profits by making the workers work for a very long night with a light cap on their head (McIvor & Johnston, 2016). The miners do not really want to work at night as there are the dangers.  Apart from these, there are long periods of lockouts when the workers have to stay without their job and without their wags for such a long time. The workers have been demanding for the formation of a new agreement with the Glencore but their plea has been always neglected (CFMEU, MUA & TCFUA proposed amalgamation, 2018).

Dispute between CFMEU and Glencore

The main issues in the Oaky Creek Coal Pty. Ltd. are that the workers are not really happy with the ways in which Glencore is operating here. They are of the opinion that they have lost their freedom of work and the unity of their union. They feel that Glencore does not really want to accept the emergence a d the working of a new and a permanent workforce. They wantthe the Glencore must think about the happiness of the workers. Earlier the workers could wear their uniforms and enter the office at ease but now with the arrival of the Glencore, they are being banned from even using their uniforms. They also not have any say about their shift timings. As per the opinions of the miners, they are being made to work for really very long hours without the getting proper breaks. Each and every building in the Oaky Creek is under the ownership of the Glencore. So, they could easily make an increase in the price of the buildings or even the transportation and make the miners pay a huge price for getting even the minimum amount of services (Glencore workers fight for a fair go, 2018). There are many miners who live in the local regions of the Oaky Creek district. On the other hand, there are also many workers who follow the policy of fly in and fly out in the coal mining area. In both the scenarios the miners have to pay a certain price (Hansard Display – Parliament of Australia., 2018). However as the buildings and the vehicles including all the other facilities in the Oaky Creek region are under the ownership of the Glencore, they can find out ways of extracting more money from the people. The CMFEU members or the miners are of the opinion that the Glencore makes them work even at night with their light caps on ignoring the fact that there can be the breakage of the rooftop or even the severe attack to any of the workers due to the harmful gases. Glencore basically wants to remove each and every bit of the union brandings that might be present in their area. Not only did they keep many of the workers suspended from their work for a long time but has also made them remove their union shirts before entering the coal mines. Apart from this, the safety and medical facilities of the Oaky Creek coal mine was also very poor (Bishop & Cassidy, 2017). There were several deaths that have taken place in the years 2014 to 2015 and the workers were still made to go to work without even getting their x rays done or before getting the proper kinds of treatment for the injuries. They even tried the obstruct one of their union representatives to arrange for an appointment with the doctors. It is for this reason that the coal miners have stated many picket lines and have been raising revolting slogans for days. They are carrying on their protests each and every day in this hope that some measures will be taken that will be helping them o get back their rights and their freedoms as well (Home - Home | Glencore Australia., 2018).

Role of Fair Works act

The main issues that are seen in the dispute for the Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union are the inconveniences that have happened in the voting system. In the year 2017, in the month of June, there was an agreement that was about to be brought between the Glencore company and the CFMEU workers of Oaky Creek. This agreement was done through the system of voting that was to be conducted through the system of secret Ballot (Bray & Power., 2017). There were some disputes in the calculations that were done by the Glencore Company. The calculation was inappropriate because not all the employees could get the benefit the coverage of the plan. So, not all the members were shown as eligible to join the Ballot. As per the opinion of the employees, the total number of people who voted ere 191 but the actual number of employees that the company actually recruits in the production and the engineering departments is less. The only highlighting thing that came out from this voting system is the fact that only two of the CMFEU members among all had voted in favor of the agreement (Allen & Landau, 2018). This showed that there was a huge distaste among the workers regarding the plan and policies that were being implemented by the miners of the coal workers. After the result of the voting system was out, the company called back the stoppage or the lockout of the workers from their working hours for a long time ([2017] FWC 5380, 2018). The workers were called back and were asked to join their respective positions again. On 15 and 16th of July those workers were called back and were asked to join their shifts at the normal commencement of their working hours but they were not really greeted in the same manner as they were done in the beginning. However, the great blow to them came when they saw that their swipe cards did not operate. They could not gain entry to the mine as they used to do earlier (Ravenswood & Kaine, 2015). They were met at a different place at the entrance of the mine and then they were also asked to get their union branded shirts removed before entering. This was very new to them and was also very unexpected they had been wearing this same CFMEU branded shirts for all these days at their workplace and they were being asked to remove these shirts before entering into the mine. Not only this, they were also warned that they would not be able to put on these same shirts again. After this, they were asked to attend a meeting where they were briefed about the new employment terms and policies that were set by the company. These policies included equal employment opportunity, social media performance and conduct and many other such policies. Followed by this, then the employees actually returned back to the works, they were treated as surplus and were sent back. However, they were also given the payment for those days. The same thing also happened on the next day that is on 16th of July. Workers coming to work were sent back home saying that that was surplus and were also asked to remove their CFMEU branded t-shirts. They were also being issued letters of misconduct that showed that they had shown severe misconduct while carrying their revolts in the strikes or in the picket lines. These were shown as the severe breach of the Glencore policies

Conclusion

The intervention of the Fair Works act has been moderately helpful for this issue. The CMEFU members are of the opinion that they have been subjected to huge tension and tortures for all these days. They have also been kept at a lockout from their work in their own area for a long time of about 200 days. Even after this, the span of this lockout has been extended. The members are also of the opinion that Glencore has never accepted the solutions that have been given by the Fair works commission before this, so why would they listen to the solutions that are being given by them. As this issue is not really a very big issue and has never really got the preference of media so the Fair works will not be able to provide any significant solution. However, the Fair work acts have been successful in asking the Glencore Company to suspend the lockout or the stoppage at which the workers were kept for so many days. The lockout for about 175 miners must be suspended. The fair works policy wants to put an end to this dispute that is being carried on for such a long time. FWO has also asked the Glencore head to find out a fair resolution for dealing with the lockout (Giesen, 2014). There must be fair dignity and fair policies that will be needed for the purpose of solving this dispute. At the same time, they asked the Glencore Company to stop the video surveillance or the films that they were making based on the families of the Oaky Creek. However, the Glencore are of the opinion that the CFMEU members are taking the undue advantage of the FWA and trying to justify the national bullying. The commission has been successful to some extent. They have been able to make Glencore call back the lockout that they had started. The miners have started going back to their work at their shift times. However, there must have been a solution right from the ground level that would have provided an all-around solution so that the miners are not suffering anymore.

Fair works commission must be brought into these kinds of protracted industrial disputes because they are such an organization that helps in making the relations in the workplaces act properly. They mainly target at making the workplace a healthy and a very productive place. It aims at providing equal opportunities and social justice for all the workers working in any of the organization. It is for this reason that they demanded the Glencore to take back the suspension or the lockout that they had imposed on the workers (CFMEU Mining & Energy., 2018). They also have the charge of checking and governing if there had been any breaches of the work policies. It is for this reason that has asked the Glencore to hand them over all the screenshots and the videos that they had made which would prove as testimony to the breach of the work policies made by the CFMEU workers. This would help them to see whether the means in which the protest had taken place was justified or not (Kumar et al., 2016). This will help them in educating and training the people of Australia in general and that of the Oaky Creek, in particular, to know that they must revolt but in a just way. They have considered the plight of the workers and have tried their best to make sure that the lockout is being removed. They demanded the Glencore to withdraw their decision of keeping the workers at a lockout in their own residents for a period of about 200 days. However, they must try and keep a process of following up after implementing any particular policy or rule. This will help them to know if the company is abiding by each and every rule that had been imposed by them (Oaky North mine worker lockout., 2018).

The president of the FWA has to make sure that the issue is being governed right from the grass root level. They must end the officials who would be meeting with the residents of the Oaky Creek and will be assessing the issue from the day it started. They must actually visit each and every resident personally and then try to know about the grievances that they have been through. They must provide full compensation to all those workers who have been staying on the lookout for such a long time. The policies that are to be included under the FWO, must be very flexible. The commission must start and after implementation follows up a process that will help in carrying out a proper inspection. This inspection process will mainly aim at seeing if the victims are actually being benefitted or not. For an instance, even after the implementation of the policy at the Oaky Creek that the workers must be called back to resume their work with desired pay and in the good healthy work environment, there were several problems. The miners were not greeted in the normal manner that they were used to earlier. They were not only asked to take off their union branded t-shirts but also were sent back home saying that they were surplus at the work. They must also aim at establishing some employment opportunities that will help in making the workforce self-sufficient. They have to make sure that if there are any such strikes or lockouts being carried on then, the workers get at least some temporary means of livelihood.

References

Allen, D., & Landau, I. (2018). Major court and tribunal decisions in Australia in 2017. Journal of Industrial Relations, 0022185618759746.

Bishop, J., & Cassidy, N. (2017). Insights into Low Wage Growth in Australia. RBA Bulletin, March, 13-20.

Black, D. J. (2018). CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT OF OUTBURST IN AUSTRALIAN UNDERGROUND COAL MINES. Research Online, 246.

Bray, A., & Power, C. (2017). The fair work commission's' new approach'. Precedent (Sydney, NSW), (141), 27.

CFMEU Mining & Energy. (2018). Me.cfmeu.org.au.

CFMEU, MUA & TCFUA proposed amalgamation. (2018). FWC Main Site.

Giesen, C. A. (2014). Coal miners' wives: Portraits of endurance. University Press of Kentucky.

Glencore workers fight for a fair go. (2018). CFMEU Mining and Energy.

Glencore.com 2018. Glencore. Available from https://www.glencore.com/ Accessed on 6 May 2018.

Hansard Display – Parliament of Australia. (2018). Aph.gov.au.

Home - Home | Glencore Australia. (2018). Glencore.com.au.

Kumar, G., Sinha, B. K., & Singh, S. K. (2016). Risk Assessment and Disaster Management Plan in Chasnala Coal Mine. Int J of Science Tech & Engg, 2(9), 101-106.

McIvor, A., & Johnston, R. (2016). Miners' lung: a history of dust disease in British coal mining. Routledge.

Oaky North mine worker lockout. (2018). Statements.qld.gov.au.

Ravenswood, K., & Kaine, S. (2015). The role of government in influencing labour conditions through the procurement of services: Some political challenges. Journal of Industrial Relations, 57(4), 544-562.

Ravenswood, K., & Kaine, S. (2015). The role of government in influencing labour conditions through the procurement of services: Some political challenges. Journal of Industrial Relations, 57(4), 544-562.

Salminen, S. (2016). Long working hours and shift work as risk factors for occupational injury. The Ergonomics Open Journal, 9(1).

Smith, K. (2017). Oaky north miners locked out. Green Left Weekly, (1149), 4.

Stewart, A., Bray, M., Macneil, J., & Oxenbridge, S. (2014). 'Promoting cooperative and productive workplace relations': exploring the Fair Work Commission's new role.

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