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Coal train strike ends but dispute lingers

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BRISBANE, Feb 10 AAP

February 10 2013, 5:46PM

Hundreds of coal haulage workers have ended a 48-hour strike at Australia's largest private rail freight firm Pacific National.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RBTU) members walked off the job at noon (AEDT) on Friday at the company's coal divisions in the NSW 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 says the strike has 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 RTBU is steadfastly refusing to accept what is a sure way to bring a quick end to this dispute," Mr Irwin said in a statement on Sunday.

RTBU national secretary Bob Nanva on Friday accused the company of forcing it into taking industrial action, leading to a rally outside Pacific National's Newcastle site.