Workers’ Strike at Tasmania’s Largest Mining Company Exposes Wage Crisis at its Core

In a seismic development for Tasmania’s mining industry, members of the Communications, Electrical, and Plumbing Union (CEPU) in Tasmania and the Australian Workers Union (AWU)  have launched their first-ever industrial action at Grange Resources Tasmania.

Frustrated by the company’s greed and disloyalty, these workers are taking a stand against the prevailing wage crisis. CEPU Tasmania State Secretary Michael Anderson said that industrial action would be staggered, with Grange Resources workers striking for a full shift each last weekend.

“Given this is their first time going on strike, they wanted to do it in a way that everyone contributed equally.”

According to Anderson, this situation exemplifies how employer greed drives the cost-of-living pressure, not the wages of hardworking employees.

“This process is about an ideological battle between shareholders wanting to hold workers’ wages down for the sake of their own welfare.

“Tasmanian workers, particularly on the North-West Coast, deserve a decent whack.”

The strike halted production for a substantial 48-hour period, incurring greater financial losses for the company than meeting the workers’ demands for the past three years.

 “Grange Resources have been successful over a long period at bluffing workers out of real improvements to their wages and conditions, but enough is enough for the large majority of their workforce.”

Enterprise bargaining negotiations have been occurring for months, with workers basing their claims on inflation plus a small real increase, proper penalties on public holidays, and industry-based allowances.

Anderson accused the company of hypocrisy, emphasizing their aversion to CPI now that it has risen, despite their previous fondness for it during times of lower inflation.

“These claims are modest, and Grange are absolute hypocrites for their attitude towards CPI. They love it when it’s a low number but are allergic to it now it’s higher,” he said.

 “Workers feel betrayed after the company asked them to cut their wages while things were supposedly tough, and then the company will look after them when they can,”

“Grange Resources workers here are rightly saying enough is enough. Negotiations here have never been about balance or sustainability, and the charade is up. They are showing their hand as just another front parading as a supporter of the community when its sole focus is extracting maximum return to foreign shareholders.”

 The Union also warned that now that action has commenced, it is just the beginning.

“It’s a really drawn out, complex process for workers to take legal action in this country, and now members at Grange Resources have gone through it, they will make it worth their while. Lawful action will continue until these workers win a real, meaningful wage increase which is still just a tiny slice of the company’s huge wealth.”

This article was publised on 28 June 2023.