The Guardian January 22, 2003


Port Kembla Copper: industrial dispute flares

An industrial dispute has erupted at Port Kembla Copper on the South Coast 
of NSW after a worker on nightshift was splashed with hot wax and received 
second degree burns to his legs.

The man was one of two workers injured at the plant. The other was splashed 
with acidic electrolytes.

These two incidents have sparked an industrial dispute safety at the plant. 
Workers are angry and would like to know why safety showers and emergency 
eye baths failed when other colleagues tried to treat the injured workers.

NSW WorkCover is investigating the incidents and has issued safety 
management orders to the plant's owners.

These latest safety concerns follow an 18-month struggle for a new 
agreement over wages and conditions. The new agreement, which awarded an 
eight percent pay increase over two years, was only finalised days ago.

Australian Workers Union Port Kembla Branch official Phil Reid said the 
union's 145 members were pleased with the new deal won by collective 
bargaining.

"It's a substantial improvement on what it was, there's still a way to go 
but we will get there steadily", Mr Reid said.

Staff will also get an extra public holiday off each year and a new 
classification structure enabling workers to move up the pay scale more 
rapidly.

Mr Reid said during maintenance shutdowns staff would now get the 
opportunity to earn more.

Back to index page