Australian Coal Port Workers to Continue Work Stoppages

By MarEx 2013-05-15 10:12:00

Workers at Australia's Newcastle port, the world's largest thermal coal export facility, said on Wednesday they will continue to hold rolling work stoppages during the next two weeks as they protest a proposed work agreement.

The plan to continue work stoppages follows a four-hour strike on Wednesday, which traders said did not have a significant impact on Australian coal exports or prices.

About 220 employees will take part in work stoppages ranging from eight to 24 hours during the next two weeks. Union workers will also stop overtime work at the port, which handles about 70 percent of Australia's thermal coal exports.

The workers have not yet determined when they will stop work at the port, and will have to give three days notice ahead of any strike action, said a spokesman for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

A spokesman for Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS), which operates the Newcastle port facility, said it had not yet been notified of any further industrial action.

The Newcastle coal port will export around 110 million tonnes of coal this year and has a capacity of around 145 million tonnes of coal a year.

Australia's Newcastle spot index closed at $88.02 per tonne on Tuesday, up from $87.54 per tonne a week earlier, data from online trading platform globalCOAL showed.

Negotiations between PWCS and the unions will continue next week.

--Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Richard Pullin (C) Reuters 2013.