CFMEU - Mining and Energy Division
Interview with Andrew Vickers
Watch this interview with the Chairman of the Mineworkers Trust, Andrew Vickers, as he explains the significance of the Trust.
The Trust has a truly remarkable history.
In the 1970s the operators of the Nymboida Colliery, near Grafton in NSW, Australia declared bankruptcy and abandoned their lease, leaving the mine's employees without work in a severely economically depressed part of the State, their entitlements unpaid. The response of the workers, who believed that the colliery was still a viable operation, was to stage a "work in".
The community and the trade union movement rallied in support. With public support behind the Nymboida miners, a series of negotiaions between the union and the NSW government resulted in ownership of the mine being handed to the Miners Federation in return for the debts owed by the operating company being discharged.
The mine continued to be run by the workers until 1979, when its coal reserves were exhausted. They all received their full benefits when the mine closed.
As the owner of the mine, the Federation was entitled to a replacement lease, and was granted a lease in the Hunter Valley region of NSW. Thus began the new initiative of United Collieries, a new joint venture with the Federation as lease owner and a number of big mining companies who provided finance for developing the mine.
In 1991, United was the first underground mine developed for more than a decade in NSW. From the outset, a royalty from coal sales was channelled into a trust fund, and so Mineworkers Trust was born. The fund has four union representatives and one NSW Government appointee as trustees.
The Trust provides annual tertiary scholarships to mining families, as well as funding for hospitals, schools, sporting groups, emergency services and many other community projects. So far the Trust has returned more than $10 million dollars to Australian mining communities.
The Nymboida Story in Film
In 2010, the story of "the mine the workers ran" was portrayed in a documentary film: Last Stand at Nymboida. You can purchase the film on DVD, and learn more about it, by visiting the Nymboida Documentary website.
Watch a trailer of the film:
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