Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as White, G, Sterilisation of Coal Resources in the Southern NSW Coalfields: The CFMEU Perspective, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 2006: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2006, 346-348.


The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union covers workers in several major industries, including coal mining. It represents an amalgamation of many trade-based and industry unions. One of these was “the Miners’ Federation” (ACSEF - Australasian Coal and Shale Employees’ Federation) that was formed in 1915. Union history shows sporadic coal unionism – including southern New South Wales – dating back to the 1850s. Within the coal industry the CFMEU represents the overwhelming majority of production and maintenance workers – over 15,000 across Australia. As a result of a high level of unionisation, and a history of strong union campaigning, coal mineworkers have wages substantially above average weekly earnings (around double) and enjoy better annual leave, sick leave and long service leave than in other industries. This means that coal mining jobs are particularly valuable jobs to have in a community – the income and expenditure from coal mining jobs has a greater local benefit than other lower-paying jobs.