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Mine pay talks

Saturday, 25th March, 2017

By Andrew Robertson

Employees at Perilya could soon receive a long-awaited pay rise as negotiations for a new enterprise agreement reach an advanced stage.

It’s been over two years since mine workers have received a pay increase after voting in late 2015 to rollover the existing agreement for 12 months to help ease the financial pressure on Perilya which was struggling under the weight of low metal prices.

Since then the price of zinc has doubled and Perilya, which sacked some 140 workers and cut production only last year, is now back in the black and in the throes of reopening the North mine. 

Despite the turnaround local Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) chief Greg Braes said that his members were still seeking only a modest wage increase as part of a new three-year agreement.

Mr Braes said while Perilya was travelling much better than it was just 12 months ago, his members knew that it was also pouring money into the North mine and “no-one wants to put that in jeopardy”.

“Negotiations have been good between the two parties,” he said.

“They’ve been fairly upfront; they are making a few dollars with the (metal) prices but a hell of a lot of it is going into the North Mine.

“They’re spending a lot of money down there and it’s looking really positive.

“But they’ve (members) gone without a pay rise so we need to be working on something.” 

The miner has said it expects to employ about 140 people at the North which will be run concurrently with the southern operations and Potosi and push the life of Perilya’s local operations out to at least 2030.

Negotiations for the new agreement began early this year and Mr Braes said neither side had asked for any substantial changes “so I don’t believe it will take months to finalise”.

He said he expected to hold further meetings with his members over the next two weeks.

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