Oaky North Lockout Ends

> 28 February 2018

It has been one of the longest lockouts of a workforce by an employer in Australian history, and after 230 days – or 7 months, 2 weeks and 2 days – it has come to an end, at least temporarily.

On Saturday, 24 February 2018, Fair Work Commission Commissioner Spencer ordered that mining company Glencore suspend its lockout of 175 permanent workers from its Oaky North site, near Tieri in Central Queensland. 

The Commission made orders for a cooling off period of three weeks, from 7 March to 28 March 2018, during which time the workers will participate in a return to work program.  Commissioner Spencer also ordered the removal of the CFMEU picketing line at the site during the cooling off period.

Commissioner Spencer heard that a proposed agreement had in-principle support of both Glencore and CFMEU, and ordered that it be put to a vote of the workers on 27 March 2018.

The dispute stemmed from enterprise agreement negotiations that began in 2015 and stalled over proposed changes to remuneration benefits, working conditions, and hiring practices that could allow for the so-called casualisation of the workforce.  The workers initially voted to strike, and Glencore came back with employer response action – both permitted under the Fair Work Act.  But the dispute turned ugly and over the course of the extended lockout, the Commission made critical findings against both Glencore and the CFMEU.

This is an extreme example of an industrial dispute, but not all employment related disputes need to be played out on the national stage for it to have significant impacts on the workforce. 

If you have an employment matter, contact us to discuss your options.

You can read Commissioner Spencer’s decision at the Fair Work Commission:  https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/awardsandorders/html/pr600530.htm



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