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COAL rail services to the Port of Newcastle will be disrupted until noon on Monday with a 48-hour strike by hundreds of Pacific National train crew.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union organiser Steve Wright said the stoppage affected about 600 coal train crew and another 300 from PN’s bulk cargo trains.
Mr Wright confirmed that another 48-hour stoppage was planned for next weekend.
He said the union had been negotiating with Pacific National over a new enterprise agreement but after 30 meetings the two sides had been unable to come to agreement.
“We’re at loggerheads,” Mr Wright said.
Pacific National responded to the union’s claims on Friday night, saying the stoppage would halt 90 coal trains to Newcastle and Port Kembla.
Pacific National was “not wanting to reduce the terms of employment” of its crews, although it did want to “better utilise the hours they are being paid to better help the company remain efficient in a competitive sector”.
The company said that under existing conditions, drivers worked four days a week for an average $110,000 a year with 12 per cent super. About 20 per cent of drivers earned more than $150,000 a year.
It said the offer put to employees was attractive and “aligned to industry standards and practices”.
Mr Wright said union members would hold a protest outside Pacific National’s Hunter Bulk Terminal on Industrial Drive on Saturday afternoon, with a mass meeting of members at the same site on Monday at 9am.
Pacific National has long been the largest coal haulier to the Port of Newcastle, and is believed to account for more than 60 per cent of the market. Its competitors are Aurizon (formerly Queensland Rail), Southern Shorthaul Railroad and Genesee & Wyoming.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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