Cape Flattery workers strike and protest for fair wages and improved safety allowances 

Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members at the Cape Flattery Silica Mine will go on strike for 24 hours tomorrow, Thursday 4 November. A protest rally will take place at the Cape Flattery offices at 15 Lake Street, Cairns, at 8:45 am, where striking members will have their voices heard.

The ETU is currently in Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) negotiations with Cape Flattery bosses after the previous agreement expired.

“Cape Flattery has stalled EBA negotiations, and workers haven’t had an increase since July 2019,” says ETU Far North Organiser Rob Hill. “They put forward an offer that was voted down by 87% of workers as it addressed very few of our concerns. The first meeting after, they offered the same, except they removed the sign on bonus. They offered only a 2% pay rise.

“The allowances for workers are already lower than the award rates. We have even had to fight for protective gear allowance for our members, who have been contributing their own money to buy work boots, which are a basic WH&S entitlement. Cape Flattery boasts about its safety and health policy and state on their website that it’s the responsibility of management to provide a safe working environment. Their refusal to ensure workers have proper protective gear says otherwise.”

“The mine is doing extremely well and has the best quality silica in the world. Cape Flattery is owned by Mitsubishi, a huge company. Our members are worth more than the pay freeze and subsequent 2% pay rise when we know the company is doing very well financially and is producing a product that’s in high demand.

“The bosses are telling us the pay rise is aligned to the increases workers are getting in coal mines, but the two aren’t comparable. Silica Miners’ rates are nowhere near those of their coal mining counterparts, and silica is a valuable resource for the future of our country and is vital for renewable energy assets. The mine is benefitting off this financially and refuses to pass that along to the workers on the ground.

“The hypocrisy of Cape Flattery is ridiculous. A few years ago, when coal mine workers were getting significant wage increases, they refused to match those raises on the basis that mining silica and coal is not comparable. But they seem to have changed their tune now,” says Mr Hill.

After tomorrow’s strike, workers have further plans for continued industrial action, including another strike next Thursday 11 November. “One would have hoped that a resounding rejection of their offer would have brought a different attitude by Cape Flattery, but they have continued to treat their workers with contempt. The members have been backed into a corner, and are determined to have their voices heard.”

Employees of the mine work a rotating week on, week off schedule, and members on their week off will join striking workers at the protest tomorrow morning, along with members from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and CFMMEU.


For more information, please call Robert Hill on 0430 072 049 or Kristin Perissinotto on 0448 633 858.