THE Fair Work Commission will meet in Newcastle at 10am on Monday after 4 days of work were lost to the Aurizon dispute last week.
Nanjing Night Net

Some 200 striking Aurizon Hunter Valley coal train drivers returned to work at 4pm on Saturday after an order from the commission.

The protracted industrial action began on Tuesday when Aurizon drivers belonging to the Rail, Tram and Bus Union took consecutive 24-hour strikes in pursuit of a new enterprise agreement.

In response, the Queensland-based Aurizon locked the drivers out of their workplace on Thursday and Friday.

The union members then called a further 24-hour stoppage under a little used provision of the Fair Work Act that legitimises ‘‘employee response action’’.

It was this strike, from 4am on Saturday, that the commission curtailed, resulting in work resuming at 4pm on Saturday.

Union organiser Steve Wright said the commission had also called a moratorium on further action by either side until midnight on Wednesday.

Mr Wright said he did not believe the coal chain had been harmed by the strike because coal companies had been able to contract Pacific National, the main rail company in the Hunter Valley, to haul their coal.

However, the Newcastle Herald was told by industrial sources that only two of Aurizon’s customers, Mount Arthur and Wambo, had been able to hire Pacific National.

Aurizon criticised the union in a full-page advertisement in Saturday’s Herald, saying the strike action had hurt the local economy.

The union said the company’s protests were hollow, given that it had brought on two days of the action itself by locking out workers.

The company defended this by saying it needed to bring matters to a head.

An Aurizon spokesman said the union had called Saturday’s strike despite today’s commission hearing already being scheduled.

STRIKING Aurizon coal train drivers have been ordered by the Fair Work Commission to cut short a 24-hour strike called in response to being locked out of their workplace by the company.

As well, the commission has ordered a moratorium on further industrial action until 4pm on Wednesday.

The parties have been ordered to attend a hearing of the commission at 10am on Monday in Newcastle.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union organiser Steve Wright said the moratorium called by the commission had been to stop the company taking retaliatory action against the drivers in the form of a further lockout.

Mr Wright said Aurizon drivers had gone back to work at 4pm on Saturday after the commission ordered a 24-hour ‘‘employee response action’’ cut to 12 hours.

He said he did not believe the coal chain had been harmed by the strike because coal companies had been able to contract Pacific National to haul their coal in place of Aurizon.

The industrial action began last week when about 200 Hunter Valley train drivers went on strike for 48 hours.

Aurizon responded by locking its drivers out for 48 hours, which resulted in the union calling the 24-hour ‘‘employee response action’’ that was cut short by the commission.

Aurizon criticised the union in a full page advertisement in Saturday’s Newcastle Herald, saying the strike action had hurt the local economy.

The union said the company’s protests were hollow, given it had brought on two days of the action itself by locking out workers.

The company defended this by saying it needed to bring matters to a head.