Delegates from the coal industry in Queensland have initiated a three-month campaign to grow union membership in their workplaces. The plan to increase membership was developed during a planning day in late April and will be rolled out at nine coal mines across the state. Co-ordinator of the plan, AMWU Industrial Officer Callen Parsons, said the Queensland Coal Shop Stewards were an excellent model for delegate collective activity. “They initiated the plan to recruit maintenance contract workers, they’ve developed a strategy and goals, and will now bring it into action. “They took a day off work, drove hundreds of kilometres to get together and organise. They’ve shown a serious commitment to improving their workplaces and will no doubt soon see the results.” One of the members of the group, fitter Chris Harper, said the growth plan was an important step towards getting a better deal for the many thousands of non-union contract workers. “Our industry has expanded enormously in recent years. Contract workers now make-up almost half of the employees in coal mines, some of whom are working in horrendous conditions. “Not only is growth important but we also want to see an improvement in their terms and conditions. We want to see them represented and having a say.” Mr Harper said the delegates recognised the value of uniting the contract workers and permanent workers together. “We don’t want it to be an ‘us and them’ situation - as it’s been in the past. At the end of the day we’re all workers. We’re all fighting for the same cause.” Last year the Queensland Coal Shop Stewards were brought together with delegates in WA and NSW to develop a national collective in the rapidly growing coal sector. Mr Parsons said the new collective had already proven to be strong and effective. “This is a great start by the delegates in Queensland. NSW are now preparing their own plan for recruitment and in WA our delegates are meeting this week. “The delegates have really embraced the idea of a national network. They recognise there are issues that are common to all of them. This growth project is just the start of big things to come.”
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