HUNDREDS of coal haulage workers have ended a 48-hour strike at Australia's largest private rail freight company Pacific National.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union members walked off the job at noon on Friday at the company's coal divisions in the New South Wales Hunter and Illawarra regions.
The union had been negotiating with Pacific National for more than a year, and eight months have passed since the old enterprise bargaining agreement expired. The industrial action by 800 staff, including train drivers and terminal operators, ended at noon on Sunday.
Pacific National, a subsidiary of transport infrastructure company Asciano, wants the dispute taken to Fair Work Australia but the union opposes this.
Pacific National coal director David Irwin said the strike had harmed the coal industry. "Our offer of consent arbitration remains on the table and we cannot understand why, in an environment where we are already seeing extensive job losses and mine closures amongst our customers, the [union] is steadfastly refusing to accept what is a sure way to bring a quick end to this dispute," Mr Irwin said in a statement.
The union's national secretary, Bob Nanva, accused the company of forcing it to take industrial action, leading to a rally outside Pacific National's Newcastle site.