Australia’s biggest trade union body says it is ready to go into hiding

Labor has taken the unusual step of declaring a general strike over its decision to ban the union federation from running the coal seam gas terminal at Matusa.

Key points:The federal government says it will investigate the union’s decision to bar Matusa coal seam mine workers from the plantThe union has said the ban will harm the jobs of its members and the environmentThe union says it would welcome any government that would lift the ban and reopen the mineThe union federation has warned that if it was given permission to run the plant it would be “a game changer” and would “have an impact on our ability to do our jobs.”

Key pointsA federal government spokesman says it’s investigating the union and will not tolerate discriminationThe union said it would not hesitate to take legal action against the government if it found it had discriminated against members of the federationThe Federal Government’s decision on Sunday to block Matusa’s coal seam mining project is a major blow for unions, which have been campaigning to stop the project for months.

“We are disappointed the Federal Government has chosen to block the Matusa mine from operating in the Matusas,” Matusa Association chief executive Mark Fagan said.

“This decision means Matusa and its workers will be forced to remain without a workplace in the coal industry and we will be working hard to have this decision overturned.”

The union, which represents more than 20,000 Matusan workers, had previously been allowed to run Matusa, which is a joint venture between the mining company Glencore and the Australian Coal Council.

The union had hoped the project could generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue and be a way for the Australian economy to diversify away from the coal and iron industries.

But last week the coal export giant announced the project would not go ahead because of “issues relating to operational security, quality assurance and compliance”.

But Fagan, who said he would not give a date for when the union would reopen the plant, said it was time for the government to lift the moratorium and reopen it.

“What’s happened is a real blow to the union,” he said.

The unions chief executive, Mick Long, said the union was looking at all options including legal action.

“The Matusans have said they want to go ahead with the project and we are waiting to hear from the Federal government about the reasons,” Mr Long said.

Labor’s spokesman for coal, Greg Combet, said Mr Fagan was “delusional” if he thought the ban would lead to the closure of the plant.

“It’s a game changers decision and it’s time for Australia to get serious about the future of the Matusesan coal seam project,” Mr Combet said.

Topics:coal-mining,mining-environmental-issues,coal-industry,minerals,coal,matusas-4730,vic,melbourne-3000,vicnews2424First posted November 04, 2020 13:23:00Contact Melissa AllenMore stories from Victoria