CFMEU bid to halt BHP postal ballot

Peter Holt

FAIR Work Australia will this morning hear an application by the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division to halt a postal ballot of BHP coal mineworkers regarding a proposed new workplace agreement.

The CFMEU said it was aware that hundreds of affected Bowen Basin mineworkers had not yet received information packs outlining the details of the proposed agreement.

CFMEU Mining and Energy General Secretary Andrew Vickers said under Fair Work laws, employees should have information about a proposed agreement for seven days before a vote begins.

The ballot, on approval for a new agreement to replace the BHP Coal Pty Ltd Workplace Agreement 2007, is due to begin on Friday.

"We have grave concerns that many of our members will not have the opportunity to vote in this very important ballot about the future of their work conditions," said Mr Vickers.

"Many of our members haven't received the information pack sent out by BHP, which means they also won't get the ballot in the post.

"Postal ballots have a very poor track record of participation.

"Site ballots are the method mine workers are used to participating in.

"The postal service is notoriously slow and unreliable in central Queensland.

"For a ballot as important as this one we need to maximise participation - not rush through a hit-and-miss postal ballot that will leave many employees unable to have their say."

The CFMEU rejects BHP's claim an 'impasse' in negotiations has been reached and disagrees that negotiations over the proposed agreement have been finalised.

The union is seeking bargaining orders that the current ballot, due to run from April 13 to 30, be disbanded until the company meets employee representatives to conclude negotiations and consult over the process for a ballot.

Union members at all seven affected mines will take coordinated industrial action from Thursday night through to Saturday, with individual mines undertaking additional sporadic stoppages.

Topics:  bhp bowen basin cfmeu fair work australia

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