MAC: Mines and Communities

2,049 days after they were unfairly dismissed, Rio Tinto finally opens the gates for the return of

Published by MAC on 2004-02-27

2,049 days after they were unfairly dismissed, Rio Tinto finally opens the gates for the return of some of the victimised Blair Athol coal miners

CFMEU Media Release

27th February 2004

Miners to form a Guard of Honour to see them back after 5 years and 7 months of victimisation

A group of four coal miners who were found to have been among 16 Union members unfairly dismissed by Rio Tinto at its Blair Athol coal mine in Central Queensland on 21 July 1998, will this Monday (1 March) finally walk back on the job after 2,049-days.

Rank and file mineworkers from operations throughout Central Queensland will mark their return to work with a Guard of Honour in what the Union hopes is a move to finally end Australia’s longest running industrial dispute.

Miners Union General President Tony Maher welcomed the return of the four to Blair Athol and the re-employment of two of the other victimised workers at Rio Tinto’s neigbouring new Hail Creek coal mine. “Hopefully, this brings us to the final stages of not only ending Australia’s longest running industrial dispute but also ending the suffering and hardships the families of these miners have been subjected to for well over five years”, he said.

Tony Maher said that on 25 July last year, a Full Bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission ruled that the 16 coal mineworkers who were unfairly dismissed by Rio Tinto should be given preference of employment by the company.

“While the company is appealing the decision, it has at least complied with the re-employment of six of the original 16 but that still leaves 10 of the victimised mineworkers out the gate. Rio Tinto should go the whole hog and get them all back on the job. These men and their families have suffered more than enough. It’s time Rio did the right thing and get them all back on the job so their families can finally rebuild their lives and look to the future with the confidence they deserve”.

Contact Tony Maher 0418 286 735

Andrew Vickers 0418 190 889

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