End of WA coal industry dispute looming

Sophie Moore
Workers at the Griffin Coal mine are keen to get back on the job

Workers at a WA coal mine are keen to get back on the job with the state's longest-running coal industry pay dispute looking set to end this week.

The Australian Manufacturing Worker's Union blamed the Fair Work Commission for the protracted dispute and called for extensive reform to the industrial umpire.

About 30 Australian Manufacturing Worker's Union members from the Griffin Coal mine in Collie gathered in front of the Fair Work Commission in Perth on Monday, anxiously waiting for a hearing which would decide when they can return to work.

AMWU members agreed in a vote on Friday to accept a new enterprise agreement with Griffin Coal.

AMWU State Secretary Steve McCartney said its members were not happy about the pay rate but were "prepared to cop it" in exchange for family-friendly rosters and entitlements.

He said the agreement was a victory for workers but was highly critical of the Fair Work Commission and the dispute process.

"I think Fair Work Australia is a trainwreck ... and the form it is in now takes democracy away from workers, takes outcomes away from the workers and puts it in bosses hands," he said.

The commission previously approved Griffin Coal's request to terminate maintenance worker's enterprise agreement and revert back to the 2010 Black Coal Mining Industry Award, resulting in a massive 43 per cent pay cut and the loss of entitlements and conditions.

Workers existed on award wages for 12 months - which the union claimed paid around $24 an hour - after the coal mining giant fell on hard times and declared it was only surviving with the financial support of its parent entity, India's Lanco Infratech.

Lanco Infratech went into receivership in May.

Jay Scoffern, who has worked for Griffin for more than 11 years, told AAP he had never seen such a protracted fight.

Mr Scoffern said the strike and year on award wages had cost him around $80,000 in cash.

However, he said it was less important than winning the right to family-friendly rosters.

"When you live in a town and you've got family and sport and other commitments you don't want to be at work two-thirds of the time, you want to be at work 50 per cent of the time," he said.

The Fair Work Commission is expected to hand down its decision early this week.

Griffin Coal have been contacted for comment.