The Guardian April 24, 2002


Rio Tinto's festering sore

Last Thursday hundreds of coalminers and their supporters rallied 
outside the Melbourne Convention Centre where mining transnational Rio 
Tinto was holding its AGM. They were there to protest against the company's 
refusal to reinstate 206 miners from its Blair Athol, Hunter Valley No 1 
and Mount Thorley mines.

In three separate cases the Industrial Relations Commission ruled the 
workers had been unfairly dismissed. The workers were sacked as part of Rio 
Tinto's anti-union drive.

"It is almost four years since some of these miners were unfairly dismissed 
and they are still out of work", said Tony Maher, General President of the 
Mining and Energy Division of the CFMEU. He called Rio Tinto's refusal to 
reinstate the workers "a festering sore on the company's reputation".

The families of all the 206 victimised miners have had to endure years of 
suffering and still face an uncertain future. The company has spent $10 
million in legal fees in a bid to keep the miners out of work.

"They are spending millions more employing contractors at the mines to 
avoid reinstating the victimised miners", said Mr Maher. Mineworkers from 
Western Australia, Queensland and NSW took part in the protest where they 
were joined by hundreds of other workers who support their campaign.

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