TRAIN DRIVERS in the Pilbara region of Western Australia have taken strike action as part of a struggle to establish a collective union agreement with mining giant Rio Tinto.

The drivers had taken three days of action when Solidarity went to press, holding up ore transport at the Dampier and Cape Lambert ports.

Rio Tinto is attempting to force its workers to take a non-union collective agreement, just as Telstra is seeking to push a non-union agreement on their workers. These battles are raging as Julia Gillard prepares to push through her new industrial relations package.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is waging a campaign for a union agreement as part of a broader industrial struggle.

As part of the non-union agreement, Rio Tinto is looking to introduce automated train operators, which would potentially lead to job cuts and safety hazards for workers.

The CFMEU is also seeking an at-inflation wage rise and demanding that allowances and incentives that have been paid during the Western Australian mining boom are absorbed into the base salary.

By Ernest Price

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