Hundreds of coal haulage workers have walked off the job for 48 hours after union negotiations with Pacific National over a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) collapsed.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) members employed at Pacific National, Australia's largest private rail freight business, stopped work at noon (AEDT) today for 48 hours.
About 800 staff, including train drivers and terminal operators, are striking after EBA negotiations between the RTBU and Pacific National broke down.
The union has been negotiating with Pacific National for more than 12 months.
RTBU national secretary Bob Nanva said the company had forced the union into taking the industrial action.
"Pacific National have refused to budge despite 290 days having passed since negotiations began," Mr Nanva said.
"This is about more than just the EBA, this is about the right of these men and women to collectively bargain and have their voices heard."
A spokesman for the union said that about 200 Pacific National employees were currently rallying outside the company's Newcastle site.
Pacific National director David Irwin has previously said the company will not change its offer.
The company's major customers include Xstrata and Whitehaven Coal, who have cut workers recently and are considering legal action against the union if the strike affects income.
Pacific National hauls 70 per cent of the state's coal, but other rail companies and coal producers will also be affected by trains standing idle on lines.