Collieries Staff and Officials Association Director Catherine Bolger said that it was a “victory” against discrimination and corporate misbehavior.
“Thirteen workers have had to stand up to a giant mining company to get what they were rightfully owed. They are very happy to finally get what they are owed, but it should not have been as hard as it was.
Ms Bolger said that the struggle to get Centennial Coal to “do the right thing” had involved actions in the Federal Court, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Fair Work Commission and a huge community effort.
“The community support for these men has been amazing. We want to thank everyone who helped, particularly the 3,500 people that signed our petition to get justice for these men.
“With the community behind them, these 13 local workers were able to stand up to a multi-national mining giant – which was extremely courageous. We are extremely pleased to see Centennial back down and agree to pay these workers today.
“However it has been utterly disappointing that Centennial took so long and employed so many lawyers to try and dodge its obligations to workers who had often been loyal for over than 30 years.
“These workers were determined to get justice and ensure the company could not rip-off anyone else in the same way.
Ms Bolger said that she was in “absolute awe” of the strength and courage the workers had shown in facing off against a corporate behemoth.
“For these men, it was never about the money. It was about ensuring that this couldn’t happen to anyone else.
“The spirit of these workers reminds me of Daryl Kerrigan from The Castle. When a corporate giant tried to stomp on him, he stood up. These workers have been vindicated for standing up to a corporate giant today.
Ms Bolger said Centennial’s back-down was important given than the coal industry was in a down-turn and further retrenchments were possible.