AFTER spending 230 days locked out of the mine they work at, 175 Oaky North miners will head back into the pit soon.
AFTER spending 230 days locked out of the mine they work at, 175 Oaky North miners will head back into the pit soon. Campbell Gellie

Miners to leave picket line, head back to the pit

AFTER spending 230 days locked out of the mine they work at, 175 Oaky North miners will head back into the pit soon.

Following two days of hearings in the Fair Work Commission Commissioner Paula Spencer has ordered that the lockout at the mine be suspended, for three weeks at least.

The suspension will start on March 7 and finish on March 28, the day after the workers are expected to have a ballot on Glendora's proposed EA. 

The locked-out workers will now participate in a return to work program.

It is a significant turning point in the long standing dispute between the CFMEU members and mine owner Glencore as both sides have continuously blamed the other for a failure to agree to a new enterprise agreement.

The dispute has turned ugly, people have been charged with harassment offences while Glencore's use of surveillance cameras in the town of Tieri were made public.

The decision to suspend the lockout came through a request by the CFMEU but it also has clause which could satisfy Glencore. 

 

The picket line outside Glencore's Oaky north mine.
The picket line outside Glencore's Oaky north mine. Campbell Gellie

Commissioner Spencer ordered the miners vote on the enterprise agreement that had in-principle support from both Glencore and key CFMEU members following a Fair Work hearing on January 10.

That EA was subsequently voted down by the 175 workers on January 24.

"The vote will take place on 27 March 2018 and with the continued support of the CFMEU to the in principle agreement, Glencore is hopeful for a successful vote to bring to end this industrial dispute," a Glencore spokesman said. 

Member for Dawson George Christensen revealed his role in the decision via Twitter yesterday.

"Michelle Landry, Ken O'Dowd, Matt Canavan and I strongly pressured Glencore to end the lockout. As a result they told govt last week they wouldn't object to the CFMEU application to Fair Work to end the lockout, ensuring Fair Work ruled in favour of ending it."



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