Solid Energy strike disrupts NZ export coal haulage

<p>A major strike at New Zealand’s biggest coal producer, Solid Energy, has thrown supply chain lines into chaos.</p> <p>More than 500 workers from the West Coast and Huntly mines began a 48-hour strike at 6 am yesterday (Thursday, April 21).</p> <p>Solid Energy chief operating officer, Barry Bragg, said the action had caused "significant disruption" to the operations of Toll Rail and the Lyttelton Port because the union gave no formal notice of the industrial action.</p> <p>But Lyttelton Port spokesman Tim Blake told <em>Lloyds List DCN</em> that its stockpile is large enough to meet this year’s export target of 2.1m tonnes of coal.</p> <p>"The port will get intermittent supply but we have enough for the next vessels due in port soon," he said.</p> <p>Two ships are due in Lyttelton Port on Sunday (April 24).</p> <p>Each coal shipment carries about 60,000 tonnes and the port has capacity to stockpile 280,000 tonnes, he said.</p> <p>However, he said if the industrial dispute carried on for a few weeks, then the port would have to revise its forecast.</p> <p>Under the leadership of chief executive Peter Davie, the port now has a close working relationship with Solid Energy. </p> <p>Mr Davie said before he came on board, the two companies were "headed for court".</p> <p>Mr Blake said the strike action would be "more of a headache for Toll Rail than the port".</p> <p>Toll NZ did not respond to <em>Lloyds List DCN</em> before going to press.</p> <p>The Engineers Union wants a 6% pay rise for miners, including a multi-employer collective agreement to cover all the mines and pay parity across the sites.</p> <p>Solid Energy is in the middle of a boom, with coal fetching record prices and ramping up production. It said the strike would cost the company around NZ$1.5m ($1.4m) a day in lost production.</p> <p>Solid Energy has offered its employees a 2.8% general wage increase, plus continued access to profit sharing, at talks with the union last Monday (April 18). </p> <p>The union was due to respond on Thursday (April 28) but the Engineers Union has since told the company that it would not return to talks then.</p> <br />